Friday, December 31, 2010


Sunshine was the perfect name for "our" beautiful sun conure, whose orange and yellow feathers weren't anywhere near as bright as her personality.

Living with her for the past 6 years made us happier and brighter, too. She loved to go around the house with us, perched on a shoulder, and make comments about everything. Oh, and dance. And give kisses. She loved to sneak inside our shirt, peak her head out every few minutes to see where we were taking her, and then hunker back down in the shirt.

She loved to eat from our plates. She liked apples, oranges, bananas, and broccoli. And toast and crackers and nuts. If she didn't like something we offered her, she would take it politely in her beak and then drop it.

She liked to run around on our bed and under the covers. She loved the early morning sun, but when she was tired she would go into her bright yellow fuzzy "bed" to take a nap. At night she slept on top of it.

Sunshine taught Mada manners: how to talk softly instead of squawking all the time, how to make "yum-yum" sounds while eating, how to accept her grooming and to groom her in return, and how to accept our head-scratching.

Sunshine knew where her territory was, and she defended it. If we brought a stranger into the room, she puffed up, ready to fight to the bitter end. But downstairs, where she didn't have to defend anything, she was friendly to visitors, though her welcoming squawk surprised them.

Sunshine was sick for about 6 or 7 months. We took her to the vet when we first realized something was wrong, but never again after that first time. They anesthetized her and took a lot of samples, prescribed an antibiotic and some special food even though they admitted they had no idea what the problem was, and then they warned us, "Be careful and watch to see how she acts, because she might have broken a leg when we put her under."

So we did our research on the Internet and treated her ourselves. We think she had avian gout. Whether that was the problem or not, we felt that our loving care was what she needed more than another visit to an inept office of staff who I'm sure were great with dogs and cats but had no clue about small birds.

We fed her less of the commercial conure pellets and more fruits and veggies, gave her orange and cranberry juice as well as water, and babied her and cuddled her whenever we could.

In a couple of months she couldn't fly any more, and a couple of months after that she could barely walk.
She slept a lot. She would still be willing for us to pick her up and hold her in our hands or put her on a pillow or on the couch beside us when she wasn't too tired. Even when she could barely move, she would turn her head around to talk to us and give us kisses.

She had a month when she seemed to be getting better, but then she got worse again, and kept getting worse. I couldn't be home for the last few days of her life, but I spent most of the night before I left with her cuddled in my shirt. Jeff took great care of her and bonded with her as he hadn't done before.

We buried Sunshine in our back yard. We look forward to seeing her again. For those who think animals aren't precious in God's sight, remember that Jesus Himself said, "Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?" (Luke 12:6)

Jeff and I have looked on the Web site for more information, and have found these items:

We both found an article in the Friend magazine in 1999 called "My Old Friend, Shepherd" ( The article has this note at the end: "In the October 1928 general conference, President Joseph Fielding Smith said: 'Death is not the end, neither of man nor of the earth. … The Lord intends to save … not only man … but all things which he has created. The animals, the fishes of the sea, the fowls of the air, as well as man, are to be re-created, or renewed, through the resurrection, for they too are living souls.' (See Conference Report, October 1928, pages 99–100.)"

Jeff also found this quote from the First Presidency of the Church in 1909: "God ... organized the earth, and al that it contains ... He made the tadpole and the ape, the lion and the elephant, but He did not make them in His own image, nor endow them with Godlike reason and intelligence. Nevertheless, the whole animal creation will be perfected and perpetuated in the Hereafter, ... and will enjoy 'eternal felicity.'"

What could be more fitting for "our" little Sunshine than eternal felicity!

A rainy day at the beach...

 still better than the sunniest day in town! Yes, even in that wind. By the way, that's a raindrop in the middle of the photo at top. That's my excuse for the blurred shots. This time.

Even the whale-migration volunteers called it a day, after giving us a pamphlet and encouraging us to come back another time.

Mimi's Holiday Eggs

Chop up a bunch of broccoli and green, red, yellow, and/or orange bell peppers, some mild onion or a couple of stalks of green onion. Add some hotter peppers if you like, too.

Use whatever you have on hand. I make sure to have red and yellow peppers around for the holidays. If I only have broccoli, then I call them green eggs.

Let the veggies cook in a very small amount of oil in your cast-iron frying pan* while you use a fork to beat lightly a whole egg and an egg white. When the veggies are ready (still crunchy, slightly soft, or very soft and translucent --- however you like them), pour in the eggs and scramble them all together.

Serve with homemade salsa or pico de gallo and whole-wheat toast.

Amounts to use: I use the equivalent of 1 or 2 peppers with 2 whole eggs and 2 egg whites for my husband and myself. I use the same amount of veggies and only 1 egg and 1 egg white if I'm just cooking for myself. It depends on how much you want to eat and whether you regard the eggs as the main part of the dish (his view) or as just something to keep the veggies together (my view).

You can make this even healthier (less cholesterol) by using only egg whites. You can add some fat content by making it an omelet and adding some cheese.

I like this so-called recipe because I know I'm getting a healthy protein-rich start to my day, without worrying about calories or any of that nonsense.

*I use cast-iron and old-style metal pans for all my cooking now. I know the non-stick surfaces let you use less oil, but I don't like the idea of ingesting the chemicals used in those non-stick surfaces. And I think the small amount of canola oil I use is healthy.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Maria's Holiday Flan

Melt 2 tbsp sugar with a little water in a loaf pan until the sugar caramelizes. You can add some grated orange peel to make orange flan, or almond extract for almond flan, and so on.

Beat together:
4 eggs
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 can evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla

Pour the beaten mixture into the sugar-coated loaf pan and put the pan in a large pan of water to bake at 350 degrees F for about 1 hour 10 minutes.

Three Easy Things

Of course it wouldn't be the smartest thing to do, starting a new diet and exercise plan during the holidays.

Research has shown it doesn't work, and we know from personal experience how hard it is to maintain a personal goal when surrounded by other people, pressured by their needs and expectations, and overwhelmed with preparing meals and treats, and all that.

So it's self-defeating even to try, because we set ourselves up to fail --- and when we fail, we set ourselves up to feel bad about ourselves and become discouraged about trying again.

But we CAN do something. Here's what I'm going to do. Let me know if you think it will work for you, too.

1. Do some kind of exercise every day. If that means 5 minutes of stretching, I count that a victory. If I can do more, it's invigorating and encourages me with my goals.

2. Eat more fruits and vegetables. If I'm eating about 3 servings a day (which I am), I'm going to try to add 1 serving for now. And I'm going to make it something I LIKE to eat --- not celery for instance --- but a Clementine or half a banana or something like that. If I can fit in 2 servings, that will be a huge victory and will encourage me.

3. Drink my 5 to 8 glasses of water every day. To make this easier, I'm using my flavored water:

Ingredients: 1 lemon or lime, 1 cucumber, some fresh ginger root. Optional: Clementines, cinnamon bark stick, peppermint leaves

Directions: Use two 2-quart pitchers with lids. Each pitcher has half a lemon or lime, half a cucumber, and a few slices of ginger.

Put the ingredients in the bottom, then fill with water. Let this sit in the fridge for up to 2 days (or even longer, but it tastes nasty if too long).

Cut the lemon or lime in half, then cut that half into 4 pieces. Peel the cucumber and cut it in half and then into several pieces. Peel the ginger root and slice it into small bits. For the optional ingredients, you could add a whole Clementine (cut up), half a cinnamon bark stick, and/or a few crushed peppermint leaves to each pitcher.

Experiment with other ingredients, but I'm warning you now that celery does NOT taste good in this water. (Does it taste good in anything besides stuffing? No.)

Making the flavored water in the evening helps me think about how I've done that day and about what I want to do the next day, and the water is ready for me to drink first thing in the morning, feeling good about how I'm starting the day.

So, that's it. Three easy things.

Merry Christmas!

30 December 2010

An early Christmas present has arrived for our family.

I love the way the little baby looks up at his dad, the way his dad looks down at him, and the way the older brother looks at the baby.

Merry Christmas!