Monday, November 16, 2015

a different lens

As minutes become hours, hours become days, I see life through a different lens.  One that realizes my time here is fleeting, my life is half over and what to do with the rest of it?  

In high school, when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I answered truthfully, "a chef".  Mrs. Wolfolk, the guidance counselor gave me a smirk.  "That's not a 'real' job", flashed into my head.  Ok, IT it is.  And so, I have a crumby degree in IT that I will never do a thing with.  Lesson learned.  Be you.

Years later, God is still using my gift and love of food to minister to others.  I am perfect in Him.  Degree or no degree.

In high school, so much emphasis is put on sports these days.  Really, when I look back at my high school years and the sports I played, so much is trivial.  So much.  I don't remember the softball tournaments we won in our parks and recs division or what great plays I made on the JV team or how many girls I struck out during my first varsity game.  When I look back, I remember being in relationship with my teammates.  My friends.  I recall fun times with them.  Car rides.  Bus trips.  Giggles.  Singing "Thank you LORD" as we pulled into the school parking lot late at night.  I remember people.  And isn't that what this life is about?

My baby girl is growing up and will soon be off to college.  Our influence into her world is coming to a close.  She'll make her own decisions, vote for public officials according to her vision for the future, wash clothes and mess them up, burn Hamburger Helper.  She'll be her own.  Set out from the nest to make her way.  I've learned that doing the fun things - shopping, little trips to town with extras - coffee or ice cream, are the times I'll remember. Not really ever remembering what those things were but, memories of our time spent together.

Our whole lives are centered around being in relationship, forgiveness and people.  Relationship with the LORD, relationship with His people.  Forgiving as He forgave, and forgives us daily.  Being ambassadors of Christ.

So many times, I forget I'm an ambassador.  In the school pickup line when I want to rant about the people who got their license from Kmart.  Or how the school officials get under my skin with their arrogance.  Even people driving with no lights on when it rains.  How forgiving of them am I?  What am I teaching my children by being disgruntled over the small things?  Behold, there's a world of God's majesty in front of our eyes if we would just focus our lens a bit differently.

For instance, glance the morning light during the different seasons - in fall, it's a beautiful golden yellowish-orange; in winter, it's a cool blue-gray.  Look at a sleeping child and see the face of an angel.  Taste a homegrown strawberry and taste God's glory.  If you've never read "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp, I encourage you to do so.  It will open your eyes to a different light, a way of seeing God, face to face this side of heaven.

There will be phases, I know, but I pray we will always return to the light.  To seeing His presence in everyday life.  That we wouldn't dwell in the darkness but, learn to embrace those times as we draw close to him. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says... But he said to me, "My Grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

doughnut do this at home

Let's talk food.  A couple weeks ago, I saw all these pins for homemade doughnuts.  

This girl likes some doughnuts ya'll.

Ok, let's all be honest here, what don't I like?

There's not much.

So I did my homework and I looked at all the recipes, the ingredients, the effort. I was in. What's a girl to do but, get online and order a doughnut pan! It arrived and I was stoked to make my first pan of cake doughnuts. 

You know, start off easy with cake doughnuts, then work up to the yeast doughnuts that call for the extra work of rising and frying, etc., etc.

So I opened up the fridge to find I'd used my last stick of butter with not a spare left in the freezer.


Well Handsome Husband came to my rescue and was picking up a few things from the store for me so I added butter to the list.  Little did I know, that our week would grow increasingly busier and there wouldn't be a minute of time left to make doughnuts.

I mean, doughnuts are on my list of frivolous foods.  Just not necessary, more a treat than a healthy, power-packed breakfast. 

Here we are, weeks later and the doughnut pan that I tracked and waited days to get, has been washed, dried and put away.

Today, I've had a real craving for doughnuts but, to make a long story short...Miss K took on the challenge to cut sugar out of her diet for 10 days.

Yes, she's 13. 
No, she's not overweight or whatever else would run through one's mind.
This was a challenge from her history book.

Here's the background...When Daniel was captured and later "taken in" by Nebuchadnezzar, he was offered the finest of foods but, he had a hunch the meats were probably sacrificed to false gods and such, so he refused to eat them and instead ate only fruits and vegetables.  So the challenge was to try giving up sugar (something that's super serious if you're a kid - kind of like steak is to men.  See where I'm going here?) for ten days.  I have to give it to her, homegirl's stuck with it.  I would've said, "Yep, tried this for an hour or three.  Now I'm done."

My willpower is weak like that.

So, my poor little doughnut pan sits patiently in the cabinet, awaiting the day when I'll take it out and actually cook a doughnut or six (or twenty-four).  And maybe I'll try not to eat a pan full while the others cook. wink.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Back from the dead...

Hi there!  Long time, no see...guilty as charged!  It's been four score and seven years ago since I even logged into my blog.  Handsome Husband's given me nudges, "you need to go back to it, you need to write something."  I just haven't had the time, the words, the energy.  Home school takes a great majority of my time these days and after we're done with a day's work, I'll be honest, I just want to crash before I go about my usual duties of cleaning house, making dinner, blah, blah, blah.  Just want to relax, find some "me" time in all the hub-bub of our busy day.

Lots of things have happened since I last logged in here!  Let's see...

Miss K turned into a teenager overnight.  Just kidding, she did hit the big 1-3 though.

Hmmm, what else??

I would tell you I've been enjoying all of the snow and blustery weather we've had here in Illinois BUT, I'd be lying.  I'm completely convinced that my body is incapable of producing body heat and therefore, made to live in a warmer climate.  hint, hint.  These days, I'm just happy to see the sun shine and luckily, our living room is a great place for soaking up the rays.

Seems like some of the most important men in my life are enjoying warmer weather at the moment.  One is in Panama where its currently in the 90's.  Another is in New Mexico, headed west to Cali.  Can I just say, can I?...You men make me sick!  No offense, of course.

How are things on the spiritual home front?, you ask.  I'm patient, I'm faithful, that The Good Lord has a plan for us.  (There's growth!  I have not always never been patient!  Not always faithful and trusting either.)  As always, I don't know what the plan is but, I know it's perfect and will come in His time.  

What I will tell you, is that I'm prepared to move on.  Again, no offense.  But, this place is just not for us.  While, I'm not homesick anymore, I still long to sip sweet tea in the hilly - preferably mountainous, but I'm not choosy -  south from a tall cool glass, I long to hear the word y'all and yes ma'am, I long to be a little closer to family.

It's easier to come "home" these days.  I don't cry when we leave Virginia anymore.  At least I didn't when we left after Christmas.  That was a first!  Not even after a crazy journey back where our trailer blew a tire mere hours into said journey, having to replace all the tires on the trailer (a major unexpected expensive - right after Christmas I might add - I never knew trailer tires were so expensive!!)  And, it set us back 2 hours.  All the while, we had to hang out in Wal-Mart for the aforementioned two hours and eat McDonald's for lunch while dealing with a sick child.  Nope, not a tear.  You should be proud.

Life calls, I'll try to return soon.  No promises.

Friday, September 20, 2013

the view from here

The Man lost his two front teeth on a hot summer afternoon a month or so ago.  Since then, he's been terribly insistent that we not take pictures of him smiling.  So, while he was working away, I tried my darnedest to snap a photo of him.  He was hard at work when he heard the cl-click of my camera and then he saw me slyly holding it, pointed in his direction.  Three words, folks, he. freaked. out.  "No! Mom, don't take my picture!"  I kindly put it down and took out the remote.  He noticed but didn't object.  So, when I started snapping again, I caught a glimpse of a half-smile, half-WHAT-ON-EARTH-ARE-YOU-DOING?! face.  He's tried ever since to thieve my camera and delete said photo(s).  Lucky for me, they're downloaded to my laptop and the rest is history.

Tell me, please, why a mama can't have a picture of her favorite son missing his toofies?  OK, so he's the only son.  Is there any harm in it really?  'Course not.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

while i'm here

We have some special friends in Albania.  Although I wish we could've spent more time with them, we had the opportunity to enjoy them while they were here.  

Well, Miss Ellie is a big fan of frogs.  And it just so happens we've been finding little frogs on our windows (in at least two rooms!) every night.  Not on the inside of course, but on the outside and from having the lights on, they are feasting on the tastiest tiny moths and other bugs attracted by the light.  (I guess moths are tasty - to frogs.)

Since I'm here and had a minute, I thought I'd post these for you Ellie!  Plus a couple others, not of frogs though.

I tried my best to get some shots of these guys in action grabbing a bug or two but, I couldn't.  So, here's what I did get...

One of him (or her?) climbing up to get a moth.

Excuse the dirty windows!  I'm finding windows don't stay clean long in Illinois
because the wind is always blowing stuff on them, ugh!
Not to mention climbing frogs!

Oh boy, a close up!  Look at those suction-y toes!

And a praying mantis (that was actually hanging upside down from the roof but, 
for easier viewing, I rotated the photo.)

Lastly, a cicada.  I found him quietly enjoying the sunrise one morning.  
He's a strange looking guy!  Ha!  Looks like he has whiskers!

Hope you're enjoying your adventureous new life in Albania!

life is a whirlwind

I always catch a bunch of flack for never being here.  Well, truth be told, I am extremely busy at the moment.  Thankyouverymuch.  I take homeschooling tremendously serious.  We have a routine down and while not every day is peaches and cream, the bad ones aren't horrific either.  So, here's a rundown of what else you've missed...

1.  Partying.  We hosted a "potato digging party" where we, along with lots of friends, dug seven 30 foot rows of potatoes.

Is this a southern thing, you ask?  This potato digging party?  Well, no.  No, it's not.  It was the idea of a friend.  We served hot dogs and drinks while they brought sides and desserts.  We dug potatoes, we ate, we shared the starchy treasure.  Everyone was happy.  

2.  Potatoes.  We've been processing potatoes.  Seems our friends weren't all that experienced in the potato digging department and we missed the memo that said "Instruct before you send the laborers into the field".  So, there were quite a few cut potatoes.   As in, we have 20+ pounds of shredded hash browns sitting in our freezer alone.  Friends took some cut potatoes too, so who knows how many there were!

3.  Cleaning.  Homeschool takes half my day, at least, and then, there's cleaning.  Who wants to do it?  Yeah, me neither but, somebody has to.  So, that gets done here and there and on the weekends now.

4.  Extra-curricular activities.  Miss K does sports through the school she attends for Spanish.  Then, there's 4-H.

5.  Apples.  We are blessed with an apple and a pear tree here and so, that's next on my long list of daunting tasks.

6.  Rhubarb.  It sits on the edge of the garden waiting to be harvested, processed and packaged into the freezer, then, later, made into strawberry-rhubarb jam.  We finished round one earlier in the summer.  Round two awaits.

7.  Furniture.  There's a bookshelf and a desk in the garage, ever so patiently waiting to be primed and painted but, I have yet to find the time to get that done.

8.  Freezer.  We finally found a nice gently used freezer on Craigslist to store our harvest in and so, of course that took the trip to get, clean and move into the basement.

9.  Sofa.  We've decided that the best option for our school room slash craft room slash guest room is a sofa.  Not just any sofa but, one of the pull-out bed sort.  One that Miss K has big plans to lounge on while she reads.  I have the feeling she's going to claim it as her own!  Therefore, we're on the hunt for the perfect couch for our cozy little space.

10.  Birthday.  The Man is coming upon his seventh birthday and we're planning a fun little weenie roast-bonfire type deal.  He wants to go big on the food.  He's a food snob as Handsome Husband would call it.  We all are in this household.  Anyway, that's in the makings.

11.  Sewing.  Yes, it's done!  Miss D should've received her package yesterday.  Goodies for the ladies' retreat special speakers have arrived!  While I was working on those (and I can't specify exactly what because it's a surprise!) I decided that I wanted to venture into making some cloth napkins.  I hate paper napkins and you just buy them and keep buying them over and over and the landfills all choke on trash daily.  So, why not go green and switch over.  Which leads to #12...

12.  Cloth Napkins.  I've begun.  I've sewn 2 complete napkins.  Then, I ran out of the coordinating thread!  So, I had to stop and haven't found the time yet to pick them back up.  It'll get done.  Slowly but, surely!

I guess that's it.

Oh golly!  How could I forget?!

13.  Tomatoes.  We have hoards of tomatoes coming in.  I haven't the time to can them at the moment and so, my plan is to blanch them, freeze them, process later!

Might I add, I was so excited all of my Cherokee Purple tomatoes made it!  They taste the best too.  The Mortgage Lifters were fine, just not as good.  

Alright, the bed calls.  My eyelids are growing heavy and it's sadly only 9:33.  No joke y'all.  It's a sad, sad life I live, I tell ya.  wink.

Friday, September 6, 2013

homeschool and beef stew?

I know I've talked a bit lately about the homeschool roller coaster.  Well, I want to update you on how that's all going...FANTASTIC!  We have a morning routine down and so far, things are moving along well with no hiccups to mention.  Everyone has fallen into this routine so well, I can hardly believe we're doing this, making it happen, conquering the fears of homeschool.  In another post, I'll go into details about the books we've chosen and what we're using.
A while back (like a few months ago!) I was asked if we'd made anything out of the Pioneer Woman's cookbooks.  Well, I'd just received them before we left for our "Summer Tour" and I think I'd made maybe one recipe...salsa.  Since then, we've been enthusiastically tackling recipe after glorious recipe. 

Tonight was no different.  While the weather's hovered around 90, we giggled at the thought of eating beef stew! 

I ran out late this afternoon to get some groceries and items we needed for science experiments and when I arrived home it was near 3:30.  The meat needed to cook for 2 hours!  I thought we were seriously dead meat!  snort.  Although I ended up shortening the time by a half hour, it was still so rich and tender!  It's a keeper! 

Look out fall!  We're comin' with guns a blazin'!

We've also tried...

We've been making these for years.  Need I say they're good?

Make-Ahead Muffin Melts
The kids weren't fans and Handsome Husband and myself thought they were just OK.  I'm not a hater.  You, my friend, might love them!

Basic Chicken Salad
Miss K and I loved this!  The men folk weren't too kind to it but, the man did at least try it.

Restaurant-Style Salsa
Mmmm, favored by all!

Quesadillas de Camarones
a.k.a. Shrimp Quesadillas.  Oh Lord help me!  This is my favorite Mexican meal in the world!  And so, I love it and Handsome Husband is fond of it too.  I think?

Spicy Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork
We already have a favorite pulled pork recipe and so it's an unfair competition.  My kids aren't too fond of lots of spice so, sorry, our fave wins.  It's still good though!

 Beef Stew
'Nough said already.

Whiskey-Glazed Carrots
Oh yum!  We do like these. And yes, the whiskey is necessary.  They're good!

Macaroni and Cheese
The man isn't fond of this because he's hooked on box mac'n'cheese...I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.  I love this, it takes me back.  It's comfort food.

PW's Creamy Mashed Potatoes
These are so creamy and good.  We could live off these.

Strawberry Shortcake Cake
This is good too.  But read further...

Coffee Cream Cake
This is the man's absolute favorite and it's a crowd pleaser even if you don't love coffee.  I've been told this more than once.  The man asks for Coffee Cream Cake every week.  Serious y'all.

Coffee Ice Cream
Dear God, this is the best thing on earth.  Can you please serve it in heaven?  Miss K asks for this almost weekly.  P, we have to make Coffee Ice Cream when you come.

Chocolate Sheet Cake
You'll absolutely perish if you don't eat at least 3 spoonfuls (or more) of this icing.  One of Miss K's friends told me she hates icing but, she wants this for her birthday!