Delicious Comfort

Lately, the weather has been…well…all over the map. We’ll have a day or two of what feels like summer, and then BAM! It’s clearly not summer. Mother Nature? You’re a tease!  A few days ago, I was coming out of my car in June, trying to escape big rain drops, while wearing a sweater and a thick coat.  I wanted something warm, thick and soothing. I wanted soup.  I was also too lazy to go to the store after dealing with the gloom, so I needed something quick and that I could pull out of my pantry or garden. In looking at my garden, my greens were out of control, and I needed to thin them out.  I had leeks and I knew there was pasta, beans, a little turkey and carrots and celery in the fridge.

Mmmm….Ribollita.  This is a yummy, hearty, rustic veggie soup that makes the best use of whatever random veggies you have on hand. The end result of the soup is that everything is cooked, but not so much that the veggies are over-tender.  If you don’t feel like cooking up everything after a long day, you can throw all of the items together in a crock pot, adding the beans and the pasta later. 

Meat wise, there’s a lot going on with this soup, so you can take the addition or leave it. I happened to have a fist full of ground turkey on hand, so I made small meat balls, and set those aside. I have also used ground meat, and cooked it within the soup adding more flavor. You really can’t mess this soup up, which is the nice thing about it.  

First up, gather and prep-note this is in the order I used everything:
I start with one leek, sliced in half long-wise and sliced up. How thick you want it depends on your taste.  Keep in mind, this will be cooking the longest. 
One small onion, diced
Garlic, minced. I LOVE garlic, so mince as many cloves as you like.
Olive Oil-about 2 Tb
Oregano-I like fresh and used two large springs about 3 inches long each
Dried thyme (or fresh, if you like), I used a quarter sized pinch that was rounded in the palm of my hand. Again, this is to taste
Salt and pepper.

While I was chopping the onion and leek, I was heating up my oil. Once hot, drop the garlic in and get it moving in the oil. It should sizzle a bit, but not brown too fast. After a couple of minutes, when the garlic is starting to become off-white, throw in the onion and leek, tossing it in the oil. Add your salt and pepper now. You’ll want to sweat these for a few mins.

While this is cooking up, prep the following veggies.
3 large carrots
3 ribs celery
Open 1 28 oz can of tomatoes, or 3 large beefsteak, diced
4 cups liquid-ideally stock

By now, your onion/leek/garlic is looking nice and ready. Add your carrots and celery and toss with the other veggies. Add your tomatoes and add your stock-I always have 2 cup bags in my freezer ready to go. You’ll want about 4 cups of liquid. Only have a couple cups? No worries, there’s lots of flavor coming from other veggies, so you can add water. I keep a cup or two of extra water handy, since the water level will go down as this cooks.

Add your thyme and oregano at this time.

Let this come to a gentle roll, and relax for a few. You’ll want to give it about 10 minutes.

Chop: 10 mushrooms-you can get a lot of flavor out these guys, so feel free to mix it up. Throw in your mushrooms. At this point, you’re about 20 mins into your soup, or at least 1 glass of wine, if you’re like me 🙂

Your soup should be getting thicker and the liquid level should be coming down. Keep adding enough liquid to keep the soup covered with extra room for additional veggies/pasta.

It’s testin’ time!  Pick a veggie-are they firm, but no longer raw, almost cooked well?  Now’s the time for the next step! If not, pour yourself some more wine and give it another 5-10 mins.

Wash and chiffonade your greens (a schmancy way of saying roll it, and run your knife through so it looks like green ribbon)-I like a few large bunches, but it can be to taste. Add and cook for 5-10 mins, longer for thick greens like kale.

After 5-10 mins, I check the greens; if they are close to tender, I am ready to move to the last steps. If not, keep checking on it every 5-10 minutes until the greens are cooked almost all the way through. Keep in mind, you’ll be cooking the pasta in the dish.

Throw in your favorite pasta and cook to the makers directions or however you like your pasta. When there’s 5 minutes left, add 1 15 oz can of cannelloni beans (drained and rinsed) and your meatballs, if adding any.

Once the pasta is done, your soup is done!  I like to add chunks of old bread and parmesan to the top. So good.

What’s your yucky weather, go to dish?

A quick update to the list!

A quick update to the below post! I was able to knock out a couple of projects-below is boozy cherry jam. As you can see there’s a good amount of dark rum missing from the bottle that went into the jam (recipe called for 2 TB, I called for more). Along with the rum I added holiday spices-cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and sugar. I cooked the mixture for almost two hours on medium-low, so it just bubbled away, adding sugar and pectin later on. I didn’t have quite enough cherries for the chipotle BBQ sauce, so I made a small batch of cherry preserves for game (duck, elk, etc). That’s a simple recipe with pepper, apple cider vinegar, cayenne and a couple of other spices cooked on low. Its pretty sharp, but oh so good. I definitely recommend it.

Also, I started the back yard project, looking for ideas of what I want in a studio. I stumbled across the below picture from a local builder (, to give credit where this cute thing is from), and will be calling him up to build a barn style studio. Its open on the bottom, with a full loft and ladder above. So ideal! I’ll of course make some modifications, with a door where one of the windows is with a wrap around porch and trellis, and a large window where the door currently is.  I still need to do some more measurements on the existing structure, since I don’t want to go any smaller. Can you see it? Sigh…A full craft studio, all for myself (ok, and Nick, too). 

Things are slowly coming together with organizing my house to get ready for an influx of furniture from my Dad’s place. I’ll be taking the stereo cabinet that we built when I was younger, along with a buffet my parents picked up in England, and a Victrola my dad managed to fit in a small sports car.  At some point, I’ll bring home the computer hutch that he and I built in my late teens, and I’ll be converting that to a bar, which will also go into the studio. It’ll be nice to have pieces of my past around my house, as well. 
This weekend will be continued organizing and packing along with hanging out with Nick’s Dad for father’s day and starting work on the new coop. I still need to get pics up of the new girls, too. Hmm…I’ll add that to the list as well!
Well, back to organizing, cleaning and cooking dinner!
Here’s to a good weekend to all of you!

Back to the drawing board

With everything that has been going on, I have had this deep desire to do. Do what you ask? Anything! I long to get creative again and get back to crafting. So without further adieu, here’s my craft-tastic to do list for the months of June and July:

  • Make boozy cherry jam. No…I haven’t made it yet! Sigh. I know. It is on tap for tonight, though!
  • Make the chipotle cherry jam-so excited about this. Super easy since I’ll have the cherries pitted!
  • Complete my patch quilt. The large squares are done, so I am closer to piecing it all together
  • Start on a baby quilt for a friend. This one I can’t wait to do…I may bump it above the patch quilt!!
  • Make a new summer apron with the cherry design and smaller cherry print for the pockets and straps. Add the red lace as a trim-so fun and cute. 
  • Edit my Yellowstone pics-I can’t believe its been almost a month since I was there!!
  • Draft the new craft studio construction plans. This has been a work in progress. I am excited to announce the horrible, dark, and cluttered garage and car port will be torn down to be rebuilt into my new, shiny craft studio. It will also have a loft for all of my storagy/normal garage things as well. This will really free up some room in the house, so ready for this change!
  • Complete the landscape designs for the back yard. These are actually almost done in their draft form. I need to complete the craft studio plans first though.
There’s so much more that I want to add onto this list, but I think for now that should do. A month and a half to do 7 things? I’ve done more with less time!
What’s on your summer craft list?
“You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club.” — Jack London

Do not stand at my grave and weep…

Today we laid my father to rest. The sun shone behind thick clouds. A gentle mist came and went, stopping just in time for the funeral and starting again after my father’s ashes were interred. My grandfather had arranged a full military ceremony at Mt Tahoma National Cemetery. The Air Force was there, as was the honor guard led by my Grandfather. It was a perfect tribute to a man who served his country well. His praises were spoken, and his courage in duty was highlighted. It was nice to have my Daddy, the hero presented. It was a beautiful tribute to a wonderful, strong man who needed a little support after being so strong for so long. I am so grateful that we were able to honor him in the way that I knew him best.

A gun salute was done, taps was played and a final role call was given. The flag was given to my mother after being solemnly folded by young airman in addition to three spent rounds representing Duty, Honor, and Country. I miss him terribly, and I imagine that I always will, but it felt good to have this process complete.

My Grandmother chose this  poem for my Grandfather to read at today’s ceremony, and I feel it is an appropriate way to end this post, this day and this part of my life. To you, Daddy. May you find the peace in passing that you were searching for in life. I love you so much.

Do not stand at my grave and weep

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die. 
Mary Elizabeth Frye

I am grateful

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to post the 4 blogs that follow this entry. 
They were written over the last almost 2 weeks now.  They are raw, 
and angry, and sad. They are things that I had stuck in my head
that I wanted out. I wanted to heal. I don’t want a pity party. Life
is too short for that. I want people to know how much it hurts to
lose someone to mental illness and how hard, but rewarding
helping those with mental illness is. The past two weeks have
been hard. I have had days where I want to say “fuck it”, and do
nothing but lay in bed. But I can’t. It’s not the way my Dad would
want me to be, and there’s just too much to do. With the time off,
and taking time for myself, I have had a lot of time to think,
whether I wanted to or not. I have come to some good conclusions.
The big one for me lately: No matter how shitty life gets, I am
damn lucky. So, soon the blog will get back to its’ silly, fun ways;
but in the mean time I leave you with a small list of things I am
grateful for. 
What’s on your grateful list?

I am grateful

Moving on, slowly.

I can’t believe it has been almost a week. The days have flown by, but I don’t remember much about them. Calls have been made, accounts have been closed, debts have been forgiven, arrangements for donations have been made, and the funeral has been planned. I went to a few personal appointments too. It’s slowly coming together, but there’s still so much to do.

I still have my mother here, close by. I’m not quite ready to let her go out on her own, and I don’t know that I am quite ready to be on my own either.

The past week seems like a blur, but based on my notes, quite a few things got done. Yesterday, I went to see my dad’s body to say good bye. It felt good to see him and tell him everything I had wanted to say the past week, and to get closure. I needed to tell him that I was sorry for not being there for him before and during his final moments, but also to tell him I forgave him and didn’t blame him for his decision to leave in the way he did. I held his hand and told him about how I am doing. He looked so peaceful, like he was resting. I can’t remember the last time my father looked at peace. I’m always going to miss him, but I am so glad for the time I got to spend with him yesterday. It helped with the closure I needed.

After the viewing, we went to one of his favorite restaurants, Steamers, and ate fish and chips and looked out at the water. It was nice to do something that he enjoyed doing.

There’s still a big hole in my heart, but it hurts less every day. I know that some days will be harder than others. After almost 16 years, it will be strange to never go to his apartment again after I finish emptying his home. It will be strange to not get random calls from him talking about a food creation he made with salmon, ramen noodles, veggies, and some mystery ingredient. This father’s day will be hard, as will his birthday one week later. I guess you just find ways to honor those that you love and try to move on with your new life.

More than my hurt for my loss, I so badly want to find a way to change things with the state of mental health care. There’s no reason that people should suffer. There’s no reason we have overburdened systems, and too many patients and not enough qualified people to help. There’s so much that can be done on a personal level, just by reaching out and taking care of one another. That’s just my soap box though. I am sure I will have more on this, as the ideas that are floating around in my head become more solid.

My love to each of you,

Well, shit.

It’s 2:17 am. I’ve been up and down all night, crying and wanting to throw up. I’m dreading tomorrow…or well, at this point, later today.

It’s now a little later, just before 9. I spent this morning listening to his old voice mails to hear his voice and to hear him say that he loves me. Finally being lazy about deleting voice mails comes in handy. I spent the majority of the night crying. I am crying now. I know it isn’t the case, but I wonder if I’ll ever stop crying.

I am so grateful for my friends and family. My guys are getting bodies to help move all of his furniture/belongings out. My Grandparents are setting up the funeral. I just need to get paperwork and help my mom. it seems like so little, but I don’t know that I have the energy for much else today. I don’t feel very present today, and I just feel numb. I know that will change. I’m so scared to tell my mom. I can’t lose another parent.

I am still stuck with wanting to know why. I do and I don’t understand. He was tormented, and in constant pain. He was overwhelmed. I keep wondering why he didn’t reach out to me, or someone to come help him. I would have gone down there, day or night. I keep wishing I had called earlier in the week. Maybe I could have helped him. But I know he was tired of being a burden. I know he was tired of making life hard for those that he loved. He hated not being independent and needing help and he hated where his life had gone and what he became. He was miserable, lonely and isolated. I am glad that before he left, he made amends with his family. I am so glad he reached out and reconnected with those who loved him so. That at least was a positive. We have happy memories of him.

He was, and will always be, the best Daddy a gal could ever have. I’ll always remember the amazing adventures we had, the late night go-carting in the Hammobile with my Texas friends; rock hunting in the desert with my California friends. Daddy, you are so loved, and so, so missed. I hope you have your peace. Rest well.

Rainy Cloud

Apparently 24 hours isn’t enough time to heal all wounds

It’s another 12 hours later. 26 hours after I found out about my dad. I went to his apartment this morning. It looked like he had just stepped out. I had to go through things to find paperwork from his military service. I wanted to see if there was a note as well. I managed to find the paper work, but sadly, there wasn’t a note. It really was just like he stepped out. It was nice to walk around his home, to have something familiar. In looking for items, and going through drawers, and it was nice to see traces of my old dad-rocks everywhere, candy, art supplies, his hobbies laid out around the house. In leaving I gave his pillow a big hug. It still smelled like him. It’s those small things that I’ll miss the most.

I met with my mom and told her. Disbelief and sorrow hit her, just like it has been for me. I scooped her up and brought her home. We just keep crying together, not sure of what to do; not wanting to believe this is real-that he is really gone. She had done the same thing as me-listened to a message to hear his voice. I’ll play her my voice mails, so she can hear the real dad, and hear him say “I love you”. I need to figure out how to get those recordings off of my iphone, so I can save them for when I need him most.

I had a pretty big appointment today, and when I got home I sat in the car crying and talking to him. Its all that I could do. I bitched that he should be there for me to call him. I begged for him to come back. I told him I was sorry and wish I could bring him back home, and that I should have called him. Of course, its never going to happen, but it helped to be able to discuss what happened in my day. I hope wherever he is, he’s looking down on mom and I and that he gets to see how our lives turn out.

The next few weeks will be planning his funeral, getting my mom set up financially, closing out his affairs, and cleaning out his apartment. That in itself will be a daunting task. Luckily, my Grandparents are taking over so much of it. I’m in charge of caring for my mom and coordinating things at his apartment. It seems like so little, but yet so much.

People have been so good at checking in. If you’re reading this, thank you. I don’t know what I need, or even 100% how I feel. Everything just feels so raw right now. Everything hurts, and I feel lost. Words of support and encouragement have been welcomed. It lets Mom and I know we’re not alone. I’m trying hard not to be what Daddy called “Tough Raina”, which boiled down to being stubborn. I’m used to taking care of things on my own, and not really talking about the bad things with many people. I don’t like to bring people down. This is just…I don’t know. I don’t feel normal right now. I want people to understand. I want people to know that they should do everything in their power to help those around them. I want to feel better. I don’t know how else to do that, but to just write everything in my head out, which is different than how I like things to be. We’ll see. I may say screw it on the whole “it takes a village” concept of self-care…but for now, I just want to write and grieve and adjust to a new life I didn’t think I would have.  Thanks for sticking in there and reading all of this.
My love to each of you,

For my father

I don’t even know how to start this post, or if I will even publish it. Right now, I am hurting. My soul feels like it is crushed and I don’t know what else to do but write and cry. This post will be raw, and may contain things you don’t want to read. This isn’t for you, this is for me, and for me to heal.

3 hours ago I got the news my father killed himself. My Grandfather found him after no one had heard from him in a couple of days.  He had been out of the hospital for one week or so when he opted to end his own life. He died alone in his home, with no one to be there for him. 
I’m angry. I am so mad that he left us and that he took the easy way out instead of fighting like he pushed me to do with everything in my life. I’m angry that I won’t ever have another chance to go fishing with him, or go hiking again. I am pissed that my child will never know who he is, and get to learn from him. He robbed me of so much time that I will never get back. I am so angry at the state of mental health care in the US. It shouldn’t be so hard to get someone help. It shouldn’t be so hard to get solid and consistent treatment. 
But more than angry I am sad. I am sad that I’ll never be called Rainy Cloud, and Rainy Bear or Rainy. I’ll never get to call him Stinky D, or My D, or any of the other names I have for him. I’m sad I will never have his counsel for when I am in need of fatherly advice. I’ll never have another Dad hug, or hear his voice. I never got to hear “I love you” again. I can’t even remember if I said “I love you”, when I called him this past weekend, I hope I did. I’m sad that my child will never get to meet him and see how amazing he was. 
I am also guilty. I can’t help but think, if I had just called like I planned. If I had reached out more often, I could have helped him. I could have saved him from taking his own life. He wouldn’t have been alone. Whether that is true or not, It’s all I can think of. 
I haven’t told my mom. She’s not in town. I had to lie and tell her to come home to sign some papers to get him into a home. She’s leaving early tomorrow morning and I have to go meet her to give her the news. I have to tell her that her Husband is dead and decide how many of the details to give her. I have to tell her that the man she loved more than anything else is gone, and that she’ll never hold him, or tell him she loves him. She’s going to be all alone now too. She had hoped so much that he would get better and that they could get back together. 
That’s never going to happen. And I am…sad, angry, hurt, lost, you name it. I’m relieved that I don’t have to worry about him. I am relieved that he is (hopefully) finally at peace. But I am scared. What if my Mom follows suite?  What would I do if my partner for 36 years died?  I’d lose my shit; probably more than I am now. 
So tomorrow, I head south to go to my dad’s home, to start closing out a life that shouldn’t have ended so soon and to try to stop a heart from breaking so badly it never comes back. I don’t even know where to start with that, or how to fix what is so broken. From there, I head back, and go to a doctors appointment to make sure I am healthy as well. I have no idea how I am going to do all of this.
One day at a time, I guess.
Hold tight to those you love, no matter how hard. Never let a day pass without telling someone how much you love them. You never know when you won’t be able to again.
My love to you, always