One Thousand Gifts

A book from a friend has caught my attention because it’s wisdom is as old as the hills, and just as solid. A woman who experienced the tragic death of her little sister when young finds herself with six of her own, but still unable to experience true joy in life. Her introspective journey takes her to the healing realization that happiness and joy don’t lie around the corner waiting for her in a perfect life yet to come. Rather, it already exists right under her nose when she begins the habit of practicing thankfulness for all that she already has.

Thankful for the iridescent soap bubbles hanging onto the dirty dishes, or the silhouette of birds flying across a sky splashed with leftover lights, watching two children laugh with each other, or a very old man in the grocery store laboring to find the perfect greeting card.  This practice of constant thanksgiving connects her thoughts more closely to the here and now, helps her to appreciate the moment rather than letting it pass without noticing, and becomes a way to commune moment by moment with the One she is thankful to. Sound good?

I still haven’t put all my little gifts away because there has been so much company, food and relaxation to enjoy, but truly, the gift giving season never needs to end with the freedom to practice an attitude of gratitude all year long. Gift #1- a precious friend who gives great books,  Gift #2- driving down Espola Road with the large trees lining both sides of the road,  Gift #3- sunlight reflecting on a white blanket,  Gift #4- my whole family wanting to drink vegetable juice.  See how easy it is?  I just started today and I feel like I could go on and on being thankful for things I don’t usually stop to notice.

If you are thankful for your family, I want to inspire and encourage you to learn ever more healthy ways to feed them. Like me, I know you will be shocked and amazed how good once considered “strange” vegetables like a big lump of yellow spaghetti squash can taste when you learn to how to cook and season them creatively. Reluctant vegetable eaters can be won over with creativity and persistance! It helps too if there isn’t much else for them to eat as well so they just find themselves trying it out of desperation. I’ve learned not to weaken that desperation with cop-outs like garlic bread or noodles anywhere nearby.  I’m learning more every day how to have vegetables present in one one pot after another so that I wear them down and wear them out with my tenacity. Well, you do have to make it taste good too, but that is exactly what I am attempting to do and share over here at Orange Tree Lane.

I am a little fixated on spaghetti squash at the moment because I am discovering it like a new pot of paint to make beautiful things in new ways. Just the other day I pierced one through six times, baked for an hour at 350, then scooped out the “noodles”. I tossed them with butter, feta cheese, sundried tomato paste and diced parsley, then spiced it with some garlic salt, dash of red pepper and generous amount of Italian seasoning. There was just about a cup left over, so the next day that went into soup broth today along with carne asada leftovers and sauted vegetables from the crisper. For more flavor I added onion soup mix for seasoning and about a cup of leftover guacamole.  Every last bite was devoured by the Orange Tree Lane taste testers and I smile just to think about it because it is so good for them.

Join me in being purposely and tenaciously thankful, and join me this year in wearing out your families’ resistance to vegetables by finding wonderful, delicious ways to make them taste good.

Happy New Year to everyone from all of us here at Orange Tree Lane… may it be filled with thanksgiving and vegetables in abundance!

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