Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Eye of the (Holiday) Storm

After the rush of holiday activity, we've had a day or two of quiet; but tomorrow we have friends coming over for Neeyosh Kooka and potluck soup. And of course it will probably get late-- although we've been known to go to bed at midnight every night EXCEPT New Year's Eve. I guess our thinking is that we want to start the new year out right with a good night's sleep for once.

And now you probably want to know what Neeyosh Kooka are. Literally, the name means "New Year's Cookies." They are actually what I would call raisin doughnuts, or fritters, or some such thing: a soft, sweet, yeast dough with lots of raisins in it, spoonfuls of it deep fried, and rolled in sugar. Traditionally, they're a special treat for New Year's Day. My recipe was begged from the woman who used to make them to sell at our local annual MCC (Mennonite Central Committee) sale, so they are GOOD. One New Year's Day we had friends over and the guys got into an eating contest over the course of the afternoon, and I think the winner ate something like 27 of them!

So that's what's coming tomorrow, and I hope to get the floors mopped and the Christmas clutter picked up by then. And you know what? I think I'm going to get a head start on my year, and go to bed early TONIGHT!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas-- His, Mine, and Ours

We've been celebrating Christmas for several days now. LovelyDaughter and JD traveled to Oklahoma to visit his family for Christmas, so we planned to have Christmas at our house on Saturday. So Christmas Day at our house I finally put up our Christmas decorations (!!!), and we invited our friends Swede and MandoNut over for Christmas supper. I put a turkey in the electric roaster, and made mashed potatoes, giblet gravy (which I am very proud of, because it turned out WONDERFUL), green beans with mushrooms, tweiback, and pumpkin pie; and we had cranberry sauce on the side. It was very good-- I love it when the food turns out great.

The day after Christmas, Hubby and I went shopping to finish off our Christmas list. The newlyweds got home that afternoon, and in the evening we prepared for Christmas.

Our traditional celebration is based on what Hubby grew up with. On the night before Christmas, we set the table with our nicest tablecloth and good dishes. Each person puts a clean bandana over their plate, and hangs a sock on the back of their chair.

After the kids are asleep, Hubby and I put the gifts--unwrapped-- on the plates, covered by the bandanas, and fill the stockings. I fill the stockings with the ordinary stuff--candy, dried fruit, other little goodies-- but our twist is that we use pistachios and tangerines, instead of the traditional peanuts and oranges and apples.

In the morning, we gather around the table and take turns emptying our stockings and uncovering our gifts. Then we eat our traditional Christmas breakfast: Golden Grahams!

After we eat, then we all go sit by the woodstove, and read the Christmas story, and then the kids give their gifts to each other.

This year, after our own little celebration we went to Hubby's folks' house for ham and verenike, and a gift exchange, with the rest of the family.

We don't always do both gatherings on the same day, but often we do, and we did this year. So yesterday was a long day, particularly since this year I was up at 6:30 to make four pies and a batch of bread before the kids were up!

This is very different from Christmas with my family when I was growing up.

On Christmas Eve, my mom and dad and brother and I went to my dad's side of the family for a potluck supper. I don't remember any particular traditional food, except I remember that one aunt used to often bring something called "Green Rice," a dish made of rice, and cheese, and broccoli, and I always liked it. After the meal we all migrated to the church for the Christmas Eve service (Grandpa was the pastor of the church) and after that we trooped back to the house for gift-opening. We drove home late, in the dark, the streets lit up by Christmas lights. My brother and I used to watch for our favorite houses.

Early the next day, my family drove across town in the dark morning to my mom's parents' house, past all the Christmas lights again, to open gifts before breakfast, and find apples and nuts and peanuts and candy-- and sometimes money-- in our stockings. Later in the day we had the full traditional turkey dinner, starting with Grandpa's special punch, and concluding with pumpkin and mince pies.

I treasure my childhood memories; I treasure the memories I have made for my children. I'm looking forward to making memories for grandchildren. Every year it gets better.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

More Menus... We Like Food, Yes?

My new menu plans have been successful, so I want to share some more with you. Or, at least, I want to put them in a nice official-looking format so I can be impressed with myself, and also, find them later when I'm in that absolutely-no-clue-what-to-cook mood again.

Here we go, picking up where I left off, with what I actually cooked last week (some of it was planned, some of it was not):

Chicken Soup with Rice (using leftover chicken from earlier)
Fruit Salad

Black Bean Soup
Chicken Quesadillas
Green Salad
Chocolate Chip Cookies

Leftover lentil soup (doctored up so it tasted a little different)

Potato Chowder
Deviled Eggs
Leftover canned fruit
Green Salad
Chocolate Chip Cookies

Fried Eggs

(At a friend's house)
Ham and Bean Soup (she made)
Fresh whole wheat tweiback (I made)
Rice Krispy confection bars (another friend made)

Leftover Ham and Bean Soup (she sent us home leftovers!)
Fruit (I can't remember exactly what)

Black Beans and Rice (made from leftover bean soup)
Toasted tortillas with Guacamole
Green salad

Ham and Parmesan Frittata
Lima Beans
Hot cinnamon apples

Baked Ham
Layered mashed potatoes (made with both white and sweet potatoes)
Fresh tweiback
Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

Ham sandwiches
Layered Mashed Potatoes
Lima Beans
Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

(okay, this was a lazy meal)
Biscuits and Gravy
(that's it-- no vegetable, no dessert)

Some of those menus might not sound very notable, however, I'd like you to know that I ran out of groceries for my planned menus Thursday night. I was supposed to go shopping on Thursday to replenish and be able to make the rest of the week's menus, but for various reasons, mostly involving the weather, I didn't make it out of the house, and still haven't due to other reasons, mostly involving car troubles. Now are you impressed? I made it four whole days past what I'd planned for!

However, tomorrow I absolutely MUST get to the grocery store. There is a limit to what I can make out of what's hanging around. Pretty soon you get to the end of what's hanging around!

So now, what's planned for the rest of the week? I have no idea. (Oh wait. That's not what I'm supposed to say.)

Actually, I do have a plan, but I think I'll wait and post after the fact. It feels more credible to myself to account for what I've already done, than to post high-falutin' menus that may or not actually come off.

As I said, tomorrow I have to bundle up, and commandeer a vehicle, and get to the grocery store, pronto, and another reason why is that I promised to make dinner at noon for Hubby's folks, so they will have a meal waiting when they get home from BigCity. Hubby's dad had a pacemaker installed today-- yes, TODAY, as in The Day Before Christmas Eve (originally it was scheduled for Christmas Eve, so he at least now has an extra day to rest up before we celebrate Christmas on Saturday)-- and he gets released tomorrow.

It's interesting that after the surgery, he felt better than he had before the surgery. Makes me want to start pricing pacemakers for Hubby.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Welcome To The Pickin'

Here are some photos, courtesy of DrummerDude, of our time at the Pickin' last weekend. Every year our friend Stef hosts a Christmas party and invites all his friends to dig out their guitars, voices, fiddles and what-have-you and come join in the fun.

Here we are getting started. That's Stef on the mandolin, the host of the Pickin'. That's his log cabin house we're in. And that's his daughter on the left, getting ready to play the guitar. There's me, standing with my violin, next to Hubby sitting down with his bass. And you can see GuitarGeek too. He's the one Stef is looking at, but all you can see is his frizzy ponytail. He's playing electric guitar.

There's MB3 in the back, by the stairs. Do you see him? He's the one in the black shirt. Also, another of Stef's children: the boy with the violin in the lower right.

The kid with the stand up bass is Stef's son, and he's incredible to watch play. Only a few weeks ago they took away his box he always stood on because he finally grew tall enough to play without it.

Here I am with Hubby, showing off my five-string violin.

Here I am actually playing my five-string violin.

GuitarGeek watching the mandolin player.

The whole group. You can see Hubby on the left with his huge acoustic bass guitar under his arm.

Stef, on the mandolin.

Me, watching for my solo.

Banjo player leading a song.

Dobro solo. (Oh, and there's Stef's wife, standing by the Christmas tree, wearing a light green shirt.)

The evening winding down. Most of the audience had gone home by this time, but the musicians just didn't want to quit. Except for GuitarGeek who was upstairs giving guitar lessons, or, as he put it, pouring years worth of music theory into the poor boy's head in one hour.

When we got ready to leave (at around 1 am) we noticed the wind had picked up and it was snowing lightly. We had to laugh because before we left home we had told ourselves that THIS year we wouldn't have to drive home in a snowstorm, the weather was so clear. HA.

It WAS better than sometimes though-- no snowdrifts. And no worship team responsibilities in the morning.

We can't wait till next time.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Care to Join my Pity Party?

I just finished watching this video, and I'm crying, because I don't have a circle of friends like that, and I never have. I wonder-- would life have been easier in some ways if I had?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

There is Hope

I first heard this song a few days ago at FrogAndToadAreStillFriends, and it has haunted me ever since.

(I haven't figured this thing out quite yet, so if you don't see a song here, and you want to hear the one I'm talking about, type in "Santa Will Find You" by Mindy Smith.)

Even though the song says "Santa will find you," in my own mind, it's not about Santa. It's about the longing we all have to be noticed and loved, especially this time of year. It's a promise that you will be found, you will be loved, because you can't be missed.

Why do I believe that? Because God is as nice as Santa.


From Psalm 139:

1O LORD, you have searched me and known me!
2You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar...

7 Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?...

11If I say, "Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,"
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.

See? God sees us, he knows us. Even when we feel like it's too dark around us for us to be seen, God sees us in full daylight. We are never too lost, too dark, too hopeless for God to find us, to see us, to love us.

From Romans 8:
38For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

She's Back!

Yay! Antique Mommy has reinstated her blog. Go here to read her latest.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Chocolate Box (without the chocolates)

Just a quick update:

--I have sewed seven shopping bags so far. Two for gifts, one for DrummerDude to use as a tote bag for his thermoses for work, leaving me four to use. Plus I have bought quite a bit more fabric to make more, since Walmart is getting out of selling fabric and had lots of stuff on clearance. And I'm starting to get in the habit of actually TAKING with me, and USING them.

--Saturday night we went to the Baker family's annual Christmas "Pickins" and played music with a circle of other down home musicians till midnight. Got home at 3:00am. Youch. But oh so worth it.

--A week ago we were invited to a party/concert put on by a homeschooling family we met earlier this year when Hubby did some tree work for them. They have six children age nine and under, and the 2009 model is on the way. I was prepared to be politely enthusiastic at their little concert, but I ended up honestly enjoying it. It was a joy to see children being such hams. When our kids were that age and had to stand up on stage for a program they looked like they were in a coma. The world is full of different personalities, yes?

After the concert, we were served an enormous, tasty buffet of beef, pork, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, several kinds of soup, several kinds of salad, several kinds of cake, several kinds of pie, and cheese and crackers-- all made singlehandedly by that dear woman while pregnant and taking care of five children and a baby. Bless her heart!

--This week I went back to an old habit that had fallen out of use, which is to make menus. It is really taking a load of indecision and frustration and procrastination off my shoulders. I'm really happy with my inspiration this time: Every day at noon we are having soup with sandwiches and fruit. And every day for supper we are having a meat/side dish/vegetable/dessert meal. It's working very well.

Would you like to see? This is what I've actually made so far this week, and what's planned for supper tonight:

Butternut Bisque
Ham and Spinach on Whole Wheat
Canned Plums

Bangers and Mash
Fresh Cooked Spinach
Apple Crunch

Split Pea Soup with Ham
Bread and Jelly
Sliced Oranges and Apples

Baked Chicken Supreme with Rice
Green Beans
Tapioca Pudding

Lentil Soup
Oven-Toasted Open-Face Cheese Sandwiches
Banana-orange Yogurt

Pot Roast
Leafy Green Salad
Mud-From-The-Crik (Ice Cream Sundae Cake) with Ice Cream

--I have all my Christmas shopping done, except for one gift. That last one I went shopping for, but the store was out of stock. They thought they would get more before Christmas, so I'm waiting. I suppose I should have Plan B in mind, just in case, shouldn't I?

--Gotta go now and put the roast in the oven.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Encouragement and Blessings

Yesterday Hubby and I went out first thing to bid a couple of tree work jobs. At the second job, we met a friendly older couple and ended up in the house holding a very nice conversation. So nice, that they seemed reluctant to let us leave. (The feeling was mutual.) In fact, I think we just made some new friends, not just new business customers.

When we drove away we realized two things: one) we were already half way to a bigger town where we often do our shopping and we needed a couple things, and two) it was noon and our friend Swede lived close by. Does that add up to anything for you?

For us, it added up to "let's play hooky" and we dropped in at Swede's to call home and tell the young people to fend for themselves for dinner, and we took Swede out to eat. When the waitress brought us the bill, Swede snatched it away and insisted he wanted to bless us this time, even though the original intention had been the other way. It was not exactly unusual for Swede to do that, but coming this day, this time, affected me profoundly-- to tears.

After we'd done our shopping, we arrived home and I called a gal who had been planning to come pick up something from us. The day before I had told her, "sure, we'll be home all day." I was sure she'd be a little miffed at us, and I was prepared to apologize humbly for the change of plans, but instead, she was excited and encouraging about our day out and stayed a little while chatting.

Later, I opened the mail from the last two days and found a Christmas card from someone we had done work for this year, which in itself is unusual, since it's often the other way around: businesses send Christmas cards to their clients to thank them for their business. But this time WE got the card-- and in it was a gift certificate to a nice local restaurant!

I think God is trying to tell us something. Something like "You're okay. I like you." I'm encouraged. And blessed.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


I am honored to have been tagged awarded this awesome meme award!! Dear Ornery's Wife over at ThoughtsFromMillerManor (only one of several blogs she writes, by the way) has done it again and made my day. And I honestly mean that. It really chirks me up to be thought of, even for a meme. And really, I kind of like memes. Remember? I like filling out forms.

Which reminds me, I meant to tell you this: A while back we got sent a survey in the mail. It was a week's worth of log pages to tell what you watched on television, and when, and for how long. I threw it away because 1) it was addressed to Hubby and he hates filling out forms, and 2) we don't watch TV. We don't even own a television. I figured it wouldn't do much good to fill it out.

A couple weeks later, we got another one, which I threw away. A week later, we got ANOTHER one. I don't remember how many I threw away. Either two or three. But on the last one we got, I noticed that they were promising to send us $35 if we returned the survey, duly filled out. I don't know if they'd been promising that all along or not, but suddenly I realized, I could earn some money!

Long story short, every day that week I filled in the date at the top of the log page and checked the box at the bottom that said "I didn't watch television this week." Then I sent it in.

And whaddaya know? Not long after, I got an envelope in the mail with thirty-five dollars CASH in it. What could I do with $35 all my own that I earned myself?!

And THAT'S the story behind my pierced ears and my haircut!

ANYway. Back to my award--

Here are the rules:

When accepting this auspicious award, you must write a post bragging about it, including the name of the misguided soul who thinks you deserve such acclaim, and link back to said person so everyone knows he or she is real. Choose a minimum of 7 blogs that you find brilliant in content or design. Or improvise by including bloggers who have no idea who you are because you don’t have 7 friends. Show the 7 random victims’ names and links and leave them a harassing comment informing that they were prized with “Honest Weblog.” Well, there’s no prize, but they can keep the nifty icon. List at least ten honest things about yourself. Then, pass it on!


1. I'm still undecided about keeping my earrings. (Does that surprise you?) Right now, even though they're pretty, they're a pain-- my ears hurt, of course, it's been only a week and a half since I had them done; and, Hubby loves to touch my face and my ears, and now he can't, or if he forgets it hurts me; and, I'm not sleeping well at night because it hurts to lay on my side, right on the earrings (I have to cup my hand around my ear, and it's just not "right"). However, I'm trying to be patient. Surely once everything heals up, things will be back to normal. However, if not? Out the earrings go.

2. Plus, I always sort of prided myself on not being vain and worldly. I was about the only person I knew without earrings.

3. However, I loved the idea of having little sparklies that you just catch a glimpse of behind my long hair. Now I have no basis for being proud because I guess I'm as vain as the next woman.

4. If I can get started on a project early enough I do great, but as soon as it feels like the deadline is looming over my head I get paralyzed and have a very hard time getting it done. I was terribly afraid I would somehow drop the ball regarding LovelyDaughter's wedding because of that. Fortunately, we all managed to pull it off.

5. I don't like to go to doctors if I can help it. To quote Miss Marple from an Agatha Christie book, "I have had too much experience of life to believe in the infallibility of doctors. Some of them are clever men and some of them are not, and half the time the best of them don't know what is the matter with you. I have no truck with doctors and their medicines myself."

6. Plus, you have to have a spare thousand dollars laying around if you call in a medical professional. Which we usually don't.

7. I love playing violin on the worship team at church. Someday I'd like to maybe play in an orchestra again. Or a string quartet. Or a band. Since our family music sort of broke up, I'm missing it.

(Wow. TEN things? Um....)

8. I'm like Ornery's Wife, and I dislike (artificially) scented things. I think, actually, I'm somewhat allergic or something, because I get headaches from scented candles, perfumes, and anything from Bath & Bodyworks. Seriously? I even have to walk a wide berth around the Bath & Bodyworks store at the mall. (REAL scents don't bother me--pine, most flowers, fruit, grass....) Before I buy a new brand of shampoo, or deodorant, or anything, I have to smell it first, to make sure I can stand it. And the smell of Simple Green makes me throw up.

9. Speaking of allergic, I can't use artificial sweeteners, not that I even want to. I can tell within seconds of tasting if something has Sucralose in it. In fact, I had a run-in with that recently: I bought a large can of hot chocolate mix. Since it had been a long time since I had bought hot chocolate mix, I scanned the ingredient list quickly, saw that the first two ingredients were sugar and corn syrup solids, breathed a sigh of relief and bought it. I had a cup one day and I kept saying to myself, "This hot chocolate tastes strange. Oh well, must be because I haven't had any for a while and I'd forgotten how 'storebought' it tastes." The next day I had another cup, and I kept tasting that odd taste. Finally I said out loud, to no one in particular, "This tastes like it has artificial sweetener in it!" I grabbed the can to look at the ingredients again, and do you know what the very last ingredient was? Sucralose!

This is just so wrong in two ways. First of all, how can I taste that tiny amount, and why would it make my stomach turn? Secondly, if the mix is mostly sugar and corn syrup solids already, why do they need to put in any artificial sweetening at all? Grr.

10. I don't form habits easily. This is both good and bad. It means I don't have a lot of bad habits, except maybe picking at my face when I'm nervous, but it also means I have trouble forming good habits. Any wobble in my life completely resets my hard drive and I forget what I was doing. This is one reason why learning to follow the daily prayers is helpful to me. It's a good habit that builds my faith and starts a bit of a rhythm going. I hope I can keep it up.

And now, I'm awarding this to every one of you that is reading this right now. You are already one of the favored few (as GuitarGeek said at LovelyDaughter's small, exclusive wedding) and you deserve an award. Take it, and my blessings.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Facts about onions and knives

Interesting fact number 1: If you cut your finger while dicing onions, it hurts really, really bad. My theory is that you just introduced onion juice to an open wound; not a recommended practice.

Interesting fact number 2: Once that cut stops hurting, it seems to heal a lot faster than I remember knife cuts healing. My theory is that you introduced onion juice-- which I seem to recall is a natural antiseptic-- to an open wound. Perhaps something to keep in mind. (Maybe I should try onion juice on my newly-pierced ears...? Oh wait, maybe not. See number 1.)

Interesting fact number 3: Having a bandaid on the tip of one's finger is very inconvenient to typing on a computer keyboard. And fixing the increased typographical errors increases dramatically the time it takes to type something.

Interesting fact number 4: In spite of the unfortunate incident, the lasagna turned out wonderful.

Monday, December 1, 2008

On a Lighter Note

I totally stole this meme from It's Almost Naptime!! because it looked like fun, and also, she could have been writing about me when she said it was a sickness, but she loves filling in forms.

Also, I'm avoiding cleaning house and thinking about family troubles. What better way than by answering a lot of unnecessary questions?

So here you go:


1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Both.

2. Real tree or Artificial? Definitely real. Then, after Christmas, we can have our little family tradition where we haul it out in the yard and pour gasoline on it. Gives new meaning to the song lyrics "light the Christmas tree."

3. When do you put up the tree? Oh, a week or two before Christmas.

4. When do you take the tree down? Usually about New Year's Day.

5. Do you like eggnog? No. It sort of makes me gag, for some reason.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? A box of homemade chocolate chip cookies.

7. Hardest person to buy for? My sons. They are not into wanting small junk. But the big, important, valuable things they like I can't afford.

8. Easiest person to buy for? My daughter. Earrings, and art supplies, and necklaces, and chocolate are cheaper than guns, and ammo, and sound gear, and motorcycle parts. Or computers, or camera lenses.

9. Do you have a nativity scene? One very tiny one.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Usually neither, but sometimes I send a newsletter.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Well, one year my ten year old son received a cool multi-tool that he had been really wanting; but it turned out to be a cheap chinese knock-off, and it broke in-- I'm not kidding-- the first TWO minutes of looking at it. He was so disappointed it broke my heart. That's the worst gift I've ever received. After all, if you love my kids, you love me. If you hurt my kids, your life is in danger. (kidding. sort of.)

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? I used to like the traditional Christmas specials, you know, Charlie Brown, the Grinch, Rudolph, Frosty. But somewhere along the line they've lost their sparkle.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? After Thanksgiving

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Not in a long time.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Date-filled cookies.

16. Lights on the tree? Absolutely, all of them clear.

17. Favorite Christmas songs? O Come O Come Emmanuel. What Child is This.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Stay home. We used to travel, but not much anymore.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeers? Maybe.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Depends on the year. I've done both. I've also done a crown.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? First thing Christmas morning.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? Family tensions.

23. Favorite ornament theme or color? gold and red and sparkly.

24. What do you want for Christmas this year? Dark chocolate. Any of the books on my wish list at Amazon, like the Divine Hours series by Phyllis Tickle. A gift card to buy some new clothes.

And I am tagging the following:

Ornery's Wife

Tomorrow, barring some new crisis, I hope to write about the lovely award that Ornery's Wife awarded me at her blog, ThoughtsFromMillerManor.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Tears, and More Tears

Yesterday Hubby and I attended a funeral that closely affected a friend of ours. Although we only slightly knew the deceased, we went for the sake of our friend, because we knew he would be devastated, and he was. I was so glad we could be there and give him a hug and cry with him tears of sympathy and concern.

At the funeral we met several friends with whom we have close ties. We all used to be a group-- I called us "The Fellowship Group"-- that met together once a week for worship, prayer, and, well, fellowship. We continued meeting for several years, through several morphings of the meetings; at one point they became "The Barn," because other people came and we needed to use the larger venue of our shop building that looks like a barn. Eventually, our lives all took off in different directions, and we pretty much ended up scattered and have had minimal contact since with some of them.

But seeing everyone yesterday, I realized the bonds we forged then are still strong. We felt like the best of family, reuniting. We all met after the funeral at Mickey D's, and sat and caught up on each other's lives for a couple of hours. It was SO good, and led to us planning a New Year's Eve party at our house with everyone.

On the way home from that impromptu get-together, I wept tears of joy and grief both. Joy, for the friendship and comraderie and spiritual strength I feel when we meet together with Christian brothers and sisters; Grief, because I realized how much I missed that. It's been at least two years since we've all been together in the same place.

The funny thing is, just that morning I had been praying, and talking to God about how I miss that kind of close fellowship. We just haven't had that kind of support since The Barn broke up. And the same day, God answers. I wept again, tears of -- of.... whatever they are when you realize once again that God is listening and answering, that He really does care.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Chocolate Box Assortment #3

Sad news: I had to take AntiqueMommy out of my list of blogs in my sidebar because she is gone from the internet. Gone! Her site got hacked one too many times and she took the whole thing down. I am disappointed, because she was one of my favorites, and I will miss her.

This item probably deserves a whole post on its own, but DrummerDude Bought A House! A friend of ours called us shortly after JD and LovelyDaughter went on their honeymoon and told us of a house for sale cheap. Long story short, DrummerDude jumped on it. Twist to the story: he's not going to live in it himself right away; rather, he's going to rent it to his big sister and her husband. So we've all been busy painting and cleaning and planning; in fact, that's the plan for later today--to go to the house and do some more painting.

GuitarGeek found a website called Typealyzer. You enter the address of a blog and it returns results telling you what personality type the author of that blog is (or at least what personality style they are writing in.) It was fascinating. Here is my result:

GuitarGeek thought that summed me up pretty well, especially the second paragraph. What's even more fascinating is this: Out of curiosity, I typed in my favorite blogs, and almost all of them, with a few exceptions, were this:

It looks like I'm drawn to people with the same basic personality as me-- The "-SFP" part-- but extroverted-- "E".

(Note to Ornery's Wife and Carrie: What do you think? Your blogs came up ESFP. Do you agree with that assessment? I'm curious.)

I know I talked about leftovers yesterday, but the odd thing is, we don't have leftovers after Thanksgiving, besides leftover pie. It occurred to me yesterday that I sort of miss the (very) old days, where my mom and dad and brother and I went to Grandma and Grandpa's for a traditional turkey Thanksgiving meal, and then came home loaded down with leftover turkey and dressing and gravy. Grandma always divided up the leftover food between the families.

This year a dear friend has blessed us with ingredients for a Thanksgiving meal: turkey, ham (which we already ate--yum), potatoes, sweet potatoes, and cranberry sauce. As much as I love ham and verenike, I still love me some turkey and dressing, so I am very much looking forward to our own Thanksgiving Day here at home.

Friday, November 28, 2008


I love leftovers after a holiday. I'm really good-- if I do say so myself-- at re-energizing leftover food. I think of it as having pre-made ingredients to make other things out of.

Unless it's pumpkin pie. But pie is good enough on its own. It doesn't need to be morphed into anything else.

For our noon meal today, we had leftover soup from Wednesday night-- ham, collard greens, spinach, potatoes, lots of pepper-- warm and hearty, pumpkin pie left from yesterday, and fresh whole wheat bread. Good and nourishing, and a reminder that God gives us our daily bread-- and his mercies are new every morning, they are not leftovers.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Makeover Continues

Well, I got my ears pierced yesterday. And I got my hair cut. See?

It's a great haircut, because what you see is me in my jammies and I haven't even combed my hair yet this morning. And it looks pretty good, don't ya think?

And the earrings-- that's a long story. I had my ears pierced back when I was oh, thirteen, in the dark ages of the seventies, when ear piercing was done in a doctor's office for a fee. My girlfriend did it for me with a needle and a potato.

(Pause for shock and disbelief.)

Unsurprisingly, my ears got red and crusty and I had a long red streak down my neck. I'm a little surprised I survived. The piercings didn't.

So yesterday's ear piercing was a Big Event. (Done at Claire's for free with purchase of earrings. Times have changed, no?)

And you'll notice I chose to go a little radical right off the bat, with an unusual placement of a first piercing. Why? Um. There's this little dimple in my ear lobe that just begged to have a little sparkly stud put in it, and I thought, Why Not?

I'm (very) slow to jump, but when I do, I do it a little different.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

More Grief... And Hope

This week our family has been reading about the Holodomor. If you're like me, you've never heard of it before, but now I'm kind of wondering why we didn't learn about it in school.

Oh wait. I know why. When I was in jr high, the curriculum went through a revision, and we did not have "History" we had "Social Studies." I'm still not sure what the difference is, but I think it meant we only studied events in history that furthered the agenda of the textbook writers or the people who paid them. And even then, we never actually made it to the end of the book, which is where the stuff that happened in the 20th century would have been told.

Anyway. This is not a rant about public school curriculum, although that does sound like fun.

I want to share what I learned about the Holodomor, which was a tragedy that happened in the Ukraine in 1932 and 1933. The Soviet government came in and confiscated all the food, even searching houses and pockets. There is the story of one woman who was found with a small handful of wheat in her pocket and was sent off to Siberia and never heard from again.

Thousands of people starved to death. Whole villages were wiped out from hunger and sickness.

There was one village where a man proposed to his fellow villagers that they sow their fields more thinly than usual, and save the extra wheat to live on. They did that, and he set up a village "dining hall," where everyone in the village got at least a bowl of thin soup every day. He himself went around to the houses daily, checking to see how everyone was doing, giving the weakest ones a little extra food. Thanks to him, the village survived, while all around them people in other villages were dropping like flies. He was a hero.

And then when spring came, one of the survivors reported him to the Regime, and he was shipped off to Siberia, never to return.

It still causes the adrenaline to rise in me. It makes me so angry and frustrated. What kind of person would be so ungrateful as to betray the one who saved their life?

And then-- what kind of government would starve their people into submission?

And what kind of people would defend and support that kind of government?

What kind of God would allow that kind of government?

But then, in the midst of my questions, I remember other stories. Stories like the one handed down through my husband's people, of the Mennonites in the Ukraine where they had lived for over a hundred years. Fifty years before the Holodomor, the Mennonites were told by the government to either Russian-ize or get out. Many of them got out, including the forbears of my husband's family line, emigrating to the United States and Canada. The ones who stayed became very wealthy, buying up cheap everything the ones who left couldn't take with them.

Later, many of those left also, moving to the United States, Mexico, and Brazil.

Shortly after, the government crackdown came. A few years ago, Hubby's parents took a trip to Ukraine to visit the places where their families came from. The villages were completely gone, and they only found maybe half a dozen people who remembered the Mennonites. They had been wiped out.

So is there a moral? Perhaps this: God had his eye on those people and preserved the ones who listened.

Why did all the rest who weren't Mennonites have to die? I have no idea. Why does God save some and not others? I don't know. Can we ever know? We can't see the whole story.

Last night Swede came over to show us some scary things he was learning about our situation here in America and in the world. All about wicked people in power, people we've never heard of, power behind the power; and the economy crashing, and terrible things happening. If it's all true, we are in trouble, and we had some pretty heated discussion last night, trying to figure out how to think, what to plan, what to do.

Then, this morning I opened up the morning prayers from the Divine Hours and this is what I read: (with my thoughts in red)

The Midday Psalm
I Will Sing Praises to the God of Jacob

We give you thanks, O God, we give you thanks,* calling upon your Name and declaring all your wonderful deeds. "I will appoint a time," says God;* (is this YOUR time then?) "I will judge with equity. (of course-- when you judge it will be RIGHT) Though the earth and all its inhabitants are quaking,*(that's exactly what it feels like) I will make its pillars fast. (Really? You will hold us steady?) I will say to the boasters, 'Boast no more,'* and to the wicked, 'Do not toss your horns; Do not toss your horns so high,* nor speak with a proud neck.' " (What a relief; you will say this to evil people who want to take more power) For judgment is neither from the east nor from the west,* nor yet from the wilderness or the mountains. It is God who judges;* he puts down one and lifts up another. (You mean I can trust that God is setting up leaders and putting them down?) For in the LORD's hand there is a cup, full of spiced and foaming wine, which he pours out,* and all the wicked of the earth shall drink and drain the dregs. (the WICKED-- does this mean the righteous will be spared?) But I will rejoice for ever; I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.* He shall break off all the horns of the wicked; but the horns of the righteous shall be exalted. (Somehow, the wicked WILL be taken out of power, and the righteous WILL be taken care of.)
Psalm 75

The Refrain

I will bless the LORD who gives me counsel. (Thank you, thank you, God, for showing this to me today. It's exactly what I needed.)
Psalm 16:7

What encourages me as much as the psalm itself is realizing that God cares enough about me to somehow manage that the very thing I need to hear today was prepared for me a long time before today.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Grief Not My Own

I heard some bad news yesterday. Even though it was very old news, it was new news to me, and therefore just as shocking.

Several years ago, at a garage sale, I bought a old video compilation of various ice skating performances, including one or two by gold-medal-winning skating couple Sergei Grinkov and Katia (Ekaterina) Gordeeva. Have you heard of them?

We loved watching their perfomances over and over, she so tiny (at 5'1") and he so tall (5'11"). A lot of their moves involved him holding her, swinging her around, picking her up. They began skating together when she was 10 and he was 14. Eventually, they fell in love, and got married. It was the most beautiful, storybook romance, and we took that young Russian couple into our hearts. We felt like we knew them, we admired them, we sighed with joy over their romance and their talent, their young love.

Then, yesterday, I learned that Sergei died unexpectedly in 1997 of heart disease-- at 27 years of age-- leaving a 24-year-old widow and a tiny daughter.

The news hit me really hard. It's so sad, so tragic. So unfair. LovelyDaughter and I both cried as if it happened yesterday, because, for us it did.

The nice thing, however, about old news, is that you don't have to wait ten years to find out what happens next. This morning we went looking, and got to hear "the rest of the story."

Happily, Katia is now married again, in fact, has been for six years already, to another gold-medal-winning skater. Together they had another child. We got to watch a couple of newer videos of Katia and her new husband, Ilia, skating together, and of Katia and her two daughters skating together.

I'm glad there is still happiness. Katia was not left a bereaved, lonely widow forever. Her daughter is not completely fatherless. And yet... Still...

Hubby says he feels sorry for Sergei. He had to leave his happy life. He could no longer care for his daughter, and his wife was given to another.

It's good that sad endings can have happy new beginnings, but.... still...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Let's hear it for internal organs

We had a great conference over the weekend. A team of students from a ministry school in Redding, California came to teach us about a new style of evangelism.

The idea is to go on a "treasure hunt." You ask God for "clues," and then you go out and follow the clues till you find a person, whom you strike up a conversation with, usually by asking them if you can pray for them. If they agree, often God does something for them, like healing them of some condition on the spot, and often the person will give their heart to Christ, if they never have, or decide to return to Him if they have.

By clues, I mean a list of thing to look for. For example, LovelyDaughter and JD were in a group where collectively they ended up with a list that included, among other things, "Menards," "gray building," "fiber optic angel," and "Amber." They went to Menards, which is a big gray building, and looked around till, looky there, they saw a sign that resembled a fiber optic angel. They stood near the sign, and an employee came up to ask them if they needed help, and lo, and behold, her name tag said "Amber." The team was able to pray with her for some real concerns she had, and also pray for her back which she had problems with from an injury.

The stories we heard over the weekend of the team's experiences using this method were absolutely amazing, even more so than this story.

But I confess that Hubby and I did not participate. We went to the meeting, and we totally chickened out. Let me put it another way: I freaked out.

Yes. I did.

I am not an extrovert, and the idea of walking up to a stranger in cold blood, for any reason, even a cool Holy Spirit treasure hunt, just absolutely freaked me. I have had too many experiences of having to knock on doors to hand out tracts and fliers or try to sell stuff. So, I panicked, and Hubby did too wasn't too fond of the idea either, so we compromised by... taking a nap in the van.

I know. So terribly spiritual and evangelistic.

We felt so condemned the rest of the day, mostly-- well, completely-- from our own selves for losing courage and not at least giving it a try. Even if it's not our style or personality, we could have tried.

It's a really good thing that the bible says that we are a BODY. Even a gall bladder or a spleen has some use, though never seen or heard. And nobody complains that they're not an eye or a mouth, or something more noticeable, right?

In spite of that knowledge, I still feel a wee bit guilty. Steve Chandler says that we should not use what we are or are not as an excuse. He says we can be anything we want to be. And yet, if his word and the bible disagree, I think I know which one I should listen to.

Sunday night during prayer time I told God I would try to learn to be more outgoing if that's what He wanted. But He has to help me!

So now I'm interested in finding my own style of reaching out to people. Yesterday I had to run errands, picking up various things at various stores, and I made it my goal to smile and say a friendly word--like, HI; notice the singular form here--to every sales person. That felt like a major accomplishment. If I never have the courage to do more, at least I have tried to show God's love in a very small way.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Chocolate Box #2

I spent two days this week pretty much incapacitated by an annoying, miserable headache/nausea combo. One evening LovelyDaughter rubbed my neck and shoulders for me, which completely amazed me by how much it helped the headache. The next night I went to sleep with a warmed grain thingie on my neck--a cloth bag full of some sort of millet or rice or something, and all sorts of comforting-smelling herbs--which was very, very comforting, and put me to sleep like a baby, and the next day I woke up and the headache was only a memory.

I've been doing much better these days, aside from that headache. I've been taking something called "Malic Acid with magnesium" which also has B vitamins, 5HTP, St. John's Wort, and some other herbs. With it I take calcium and potassium, and I really believe the combination is helping my fibromyalgia symptoms. And for some odd reason, it's been helping Hubby too.

This week I made a cloth grocery bag-- the first of several (one down, eleven to go), so that I can stop bringing home so many plastic and paper bags when I buy groceries. Maybe one of these days I'll get a picture for you. I'm pretty pleased with my effort, especially since I used half a yard of Walmart clearance fabric, which means I can make two for about $1.50. Compare to $20 if I buy them pre-made. Pretty cool, I say.

Our church is having special meetings all this weekend, so I'll be busy on the worship team, starting tonight.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Where Have I Been? Who Am I? What's My Name?

I haven't been around lately, I know, but I can't remember why not. I just know that for two days now I have been fighting a miserable headache, the kind that makes one nauseous. I have taken every headache remedy I have available, and also nausea remedy, and I am still miserable.

I had a lot of great things to say, but I can't remember them. So I think I must wait till the headache leaves, going back to its lair, where it will bide its time for another month.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

More of the Same (Don't look if it bothers you)

I spent the day yesterday grieving. Not because "my candidate" did not win the election.


But because I suddenly realized that I'd been living in a bubble, and the country that I grew up believing that we were-- the one I'd learned about in the history books-- does not exist anymore. We are not a conservative, God-fearing nation. We are liberal, godless, and foundationless.

I should have realized this sooner. Somehow I was under the delusion that there was still a chance that our nation would return to the moral foundations, the right and wrong, of the bible.

I now know that somewhere along the line, we have become a country that doesn't give a rip what the bible says is right or wrong. After all, among all the choices in the world, why should we use the BIBLE as our standard?

There IS a right and wrong--I think the new terms are "politically correct" and "politically incorrect"-- but I can't figure out what it's based on. Does anybody have a copy of the new moral code handbook handy?

But after I got done grieving for what is lost, I actually felt better.

Because, you know, now whatever happens will just be what is to be expected. Legal abortion?* Why not? That doesn't mean any person must have an abortion, just because it's legal. Gay marriages? So? In a way, this IS the logical progression of our Bill of Rights. We are just expanding our rights. And legality doesn't necessarily mean "right" or "recommended."

But as the Apostle Paul said in scripture, "All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable." So to have massive legal freedom is not necessarily bad. But then we have a huge moral responsibility to use our freedom for good, not evil.

Now when something I consider evil happens in government, I won't take it personally. It's just the natural outcome of a "free" country. I won't like it, I'll still pray about it. But I won't be devastated. Because what else can you expect?

It sort of reminds me of the story of the children of Israel when they all moved to Egypt to join up with Joseph during the famine. As long as Joseph was ruler, they lived in favor and blessing and they multiplied greatly. Then, years later, a generation grew up that didn't know Joseph, and the Israelites lost favor and became slaves.

I feel like I'm living among a generation that doesn't know "Joseph," the country that we have always been that stood for freedom, independence, godliness, and personal responsibility. The country that spawned pioneers, inventors, explorers, statesmen, missionaries. The new generation doesn't know, and doesn't really care, that we've fallen far from the moral tree. This is a new day, a new generation, with new philosophies and new religions. (And when I say "generation" I don't mean that as necessarily an age-related term. I mean that idealogically.)

And yet.

I found I DO have something in common with the new breed after all. What is it they--and I-- really want? They want what's best for the country, for their families, for the poor and oppressed. They want the right to pursue happiness, whatever it looks like to them. They and I may disagree, and sometimes sharply, about the way to make that happen, but bottom line, we all want to live well and prosper.

So maybe I still belong here after all.

Last night's reading from The Divine Hours (Phyllis Tickle) put things in perspective for me:

Answer me when I call, O God, defender of my cause;
you set me free when I am hard-pressed;
have mercy on me and hear my prayer.

“You mortals, how long will you dishonor my glory;
how long will you worship dumb idols and run after false gods?”

Know that the LORD does wonders for the faithful;
when I call upon the LORD, he will hear me.

Tremble, then, and do not sin;
speak to your heart in silence upon your bed.
Offer the appointed sacrifices and put your trust in the LORD.

Many are saying, “Oh, that we might see better times!”

Lift up the light of your countenance upon us, O LORD.
You have put gladness in my heart,
more than when grain and wine and oil increase.
I lie down in peace; at once I fall asleep;
for only you, LORD,make me dwell in safety.

~Psalm 4

*Please go read this post regarding the subject of the human-ness of humans.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Fear Writ Large

I am afraid.

I am afraid that the country we began as is now finished. The country that our founding fathers worked so hard to create. The country that so many men gave their lives for.

I am afraid that the freedoms that were so hard-won are now so easily lost. There will be freedom, yes, of a sort. Freedom to abort babies. Freedom to marry one of your own sex. Those kinds of freedoms. Freedom to have your health care paid for-- out of your own taxes.

But there will be other freedoms lost. Freedom to keep your own hard-earned money. Freedom to choose to give it away. Freedom to own a gun and use it. Freedom to run your business the best way you see fit. Freedom to run your family the way you deem best.

I fear that the freedom we have won is the freedom from responsibility. The government will now take over the job of providing for our families, and doing it by punishing the hard-working and the big businesses who help create our economy. The government will take over the job of giving to the poor, thereby absolving individuals of the need to show charity.

I fear that the freedom we've lost is the freedom to be independent and run our own lives. Will we lose our greatest asset, from the Declaration of Independence: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness? And our other great freedom, from the Bill of Rights: The right to keep and bear arms?

I guess these freedoms I will miss are only for people who want to be responsible and independent and God-fearing.

I am afraid that now the country will be all about people who want to remain children: dependents who have no responsiblities, social or financial or moral, because Big Brother does it all for them.

Check that: there will be one big responsibility. Obeying all the myriad rules and regulations that will now govern us as irresponsible children.

I am very afraid.

I hope, hope, hope that my fears are unfounded.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

My Chocolate Box: Assortment 1

I'm starting a new "series" here on my blog that I'm going to call my "Chocolate Box." Just imagine opening a box of chocolates and seeing various assorted bite-sized candies. Well, that's what this post is: various assorted bites. Any time I have miscellaneous bits I want to talk about, they're going to get put into my "box of chocolates." Welcome to the first collection.


The whole family except MB3 got to vote today, and he was feeling pretty miffed. He turns 18 in January, so he has to wait a while for his first presidential election. However, DrummerDude was thrilled because he did get to vote for the first time today.

I started making a "visual journal" today, and I'm really excited about it. I bought a small padded hardcover blank book that has lines on every other page. I'm decorating the pages a bit like a scrapbook, with decorative paper, stencils, and cut-outs from catalogs. I'm going to use it as a place to write lists (like, what I'm thankful for, goals, stuff I like), and good quotations, and prayers (either mine, or from prayer books), and witty stuff that GuitarGeek says, and maybe even jokes. I want it to be inspiring to write in, and inspiring to read later.

This post by the gal at Conversion Diary makes me want to go to Adoration, even though I'm not a catholic. And if you're not catholic you have no idea what Adoration even is, just like me before I read her blog. But it sounds like a wonderful idea: sitting quietly in worship and prayer, listening for God to speak to our heart. I think everyone, protestants and catholics alike, would benefit from that.

This is how I will sleep tonight, not yet knowing the results of the election:

Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit; for you have redeemed me, O Lord, O God of truth. Keep me, O Lord, as the apple of your eye; hide me under the shadow of your wings.

In fact, that is how I will sleep every night after, no matter who wins.

Monday, November 3, 2008

I'm ready to tackle life again

I had a great weekend. Friday Hubby suddenly said to me, "How would you like to go visit B and D tomorrow?"

And I was like, "Sure!"

B and D live in Kansas City (a four hour drive) and are two of my favorite relatives, so YES, and I was flabbergasted that Hubby thought of it himself. He's a real homebody; he likes to be home, and usually when he's away, he's just marking time till he can come back again.

I made arrangements, and Saturday morning, after we spent almost two hours doing some chores we really needed to have done before we left, we took off in our cute little sports car.

We stopped in BigCity for dinner, eating at IHOP, which we've never done before. We are usually die hard Runza fans. A little later we stopped for ice cream at a tiny town off the interstate, and found a quiet spot with a view to sit with the top down and eat our sundae cones.

By four-ish we arrived at B and D's house and proceeded to talk, and talk, and talk, and talk. Oh-- and we also talked. And by the way, they made us the BEST hamburgers.

Sunday morning we played hooky (didn't go to church) but instead took B and D out for brunch. I felt so relaxed and free. By the time my cousin and her husband and son came to visit I was rather (read: very) sleepy, so I'm afraid I missed out on some of the conversation. (darn.)

And then we hopped in our cute car with the top down to come home.

We just happened to time our visit for the most beautiful day of fall so far. The weather was balmy, the color in the trees was vividly gorgeous. Plus we watched gas prices falling as we drove. The lowest we saw was $1.93. $1.93!! That's, like, less than half what it's been. It made the trip even more restful knowing we weren't selling our souls to do it.

After it got dark we stopped at a little obscure restaurant in a truck stop that turned out to have a very quiet, homey atmosphere, and everything tasted SO GOOD. It was really nice.

At home, we walked in on the boys eating supper, and the kitchen was still reasonably clean, the boys didn't look like they had gone hungry fending for themselves, and they'd even left me a chocolate chip cookie out of the ones I made for them right before I left. It was definitely a good day!

It's funny, because just last week I had been complaining to God that I was feeling trapped. With gas prices so high, we hadn't been going ANYWHERE. I mean it. Only to church on Sundays (ninety miles roundtrip), and then only on the days we were on worship team. We stayed home the other Sundays to save fuel. We were skipping worship team practice on Tuesday nights for the same reason, and I was buying my groceries in our little town four miles away, instead of driving a little further for the selection like I often do. And of course, no sho-o-o-o-pping. (our code word for all day shopping marathons.)

And then, with the guys' work schedule, I had to be home all day to make sure I had a noon meal ready for them, and then supper after work, and that didn't leave much time to go anywhere anyway.

So I told God that I needed SOMETHING- a break, a chance to get out- but I would try to be content until our circumstances eased.

And then! Hubby had this great idea out of the blue.

Ha. God is good.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

I Have a Winner!

Well, it was fun to run this bloggy giveaway drawing and to showcase LovelyDaughter's great handmade jewelry.

I had 103 entries, and random.org gave me this:

Comment 95 was this:

This is what she won:

So congratulations, elsie. I know you will enjoy your beautiful necklace.

For the rest of you, you are still welcome to buy something from RoseGoneWild. Check out her little preview over there in my sidebar.

Thank you so much, from me and LovelyDaughter, to everyone who entered, and for all the great feedback on her stuff.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Limited Time Offer! Hurry!

Bloggy Giveaways Quarterly Carnival Button

I want to kill two birds today.

One, I want to give you, my two faithful readers a chance to win a great prize.

Two, I want to help LovelyDaughter spread the word about her new Etsy shop, RoseGoneWild, where she sells beautiful, creative, woodsy, funky, feminine HANDMADE jewelry and beads. Did I say cute? How about fun? Or interesting? Did I say REALLY, REALLY COOL? Well, I'm not biased or anything.

But you don't have to take my word for it.

Here are a couple of things LovelyDaughter/RoseGoneWild has for sale:

Chocolate Brown Glass Earrings
chocolate brown glass earrings

Brown and Black Choker
brown and black choker

Aren't they beautiful? I'd LOVE a pair of earrings made by LovelyDaughter, except I don't have pierced ears. It's enough to make me seriously consider it, just so I can have some of her earrings!

But anyway, here's how YOU can have a chance to win:

1. Go to RoseGoneWild
and take a look around. Her shop isn't very big yet, but that should make it easy to choose, right?

2. Pick which thing you'd like to have as your prize if your name is picked.

3. Come back here and leave a comment, telling me what you've chosen. Be sure to leave a way for me to contact you if you don't have a blog.

4. I'll draw a name out of a (virtual) hat Saturday night, November 1, and post a winner on Sunday, November 2.

Good luck!

And for more chances to win, go to the Bloggy Giveaway Carnival. There are over a THOUSAND(!) blogs giving away all kinds of great stuff. But hurry, 'cause most of it ends November 1.

Edited to add: I just found my favorite giveaway in the carnival. An Island Life is giving away two pairs of You by Croc shoes. Can you believe it? I never would have guessed that Fashion + Comfort = Croc.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Coming tomorrow: I'm joining the Bloggy Giveaway Carnival. You will have a chance to win a piece of beautiful jewelry, made by LovelyDaughter for her new Etsy shop. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Important Things

This morning my goal is to get split pea soup started for dinner, and then can some more applesauce. I'm hoping to get a little time to go DO something, like shop with LovelyDaughter. Even though we're broke, it would still be fun. We can try on clothes at Maurice's again, or even go to Goodwill and see if they have anything good. Or check out the western store and try on stuff there.

I'd suggest going to the library, but the library makes me tired. Why? They don't have much that's good any more. It's all horrible. Either badly written, or terrible subject matter. Nasty. It's ten to one that any book I discover on the internet that I'd like to read will NOT be in the library. Actually, more like twenty to one. Or fifty to one. Out of all the books I've looked up, I've only found a few, a very few, that the library stocks (if that is the right word.)

This is sad, because I used to take the kids to the library regularly when they were younger. It was an event, every two weeks; it was free, and we could bring home stacks of books, for free.

Ah, let's hear it for the Good Old Days, when I'd pack the children up and we'd drive to town to go to the library, then to the park for a picnic, and then to the grocery store for the next two weeks' worth of groceries. I'd come home exhausted, but it was so worth it to have that time out with the kids, and come home well-supplied with books and food, the two staples of life.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Fall Birthday #2: DrummerDude's Chicken Fajitas

Yesterday was DrummerDude's birthday. He and his older brother, GuitarGeek, are six years and one day apart in age.

We celebrated by making fajitas for supper, using a recipe from Taste of Home, and I tell you that just to say this: Those fajitas were every bit as good as the ones we ate at an expensive restaurant in Mexico on a missions trip a few years ago. Every bit as good, if not better.

Here's the recipe:

1/4 cup lime juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 whole boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips (I used pork loin of some sort-- it was cheaper)
1 medium onion, cut into thin wedges (strips)
1/2 medium sweet red pepper, cut into strips
1/2 medium yellow pepper, cut into strips
1/2 medium green pepper, cut into strips
1/2 cup salsa
12 flour tortillas (8 inches), warmed)
1-1/2 cups shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese (I used both together)

In a bowl, combine lime juice, garlic, chili powder and cumin. Add chicken; stir. Regrigerate for 15 minutes. In a nonstick skillet ( a cast iron skillet with a tablespoon or so of peanut oil) saute onion and chicken with marinade for three minutes or till chicken is no longer pink. Add peppers; saute for 3-5 minutes or till crisp-tender.

It actually took a little longer than that for everything to cook, I think because I doubled the recipe. There was just more food in my big skillet to get done. Plus, we like our peppers a little done-er (is that a word?) than crisp-tender.

Then I put it on all the table and let everyone make their own fajitas with the meat, the salsa, and the cheese. It was VERY good.

And for dessert? Pumpkin Pie! And DrummerDude and GuitarGeek each got their own personal can of Reddi-Whip. It doesn't get any more decadent than that....

Friday, October 24, 2008

Why Blog?

Men always talk about the most important things to total strangers. G.K. Chesterton

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Fall Birthday #1: GuitarGeek

LovelyDaughter helped me make GuitarGeek's birthday supper tonight, and when she was trying to reach something in a high cabinet I heard her say this to MB3, her six-foot tall brother:

"Oh thou of the blessed tallness, would you come reach this for me?"

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Makeover Has Begun, or, Baby Steps

So LovelyDaughter and I went shopping yesterday afternoon. We only managed to carve out about three hours, instead of an entire day, like we had tried to plan for, but it was a good start.

We only had time to go to one store, but we tried on a BUNCH of clothes. It was a little hard to shop with an anything goes attitude. I'm so used to having to be serious when I shop. That is, I'm careful what I choose to try on, I pre-evaluate stuff, I check price tags first. This time, I picked stuff at random, and sometimes even by sheer unlikeliness!

When I got home, Hubby asked me if there were any surprises. As a matter of fact, yes.

I had tried on a little black dress (LBD, for those of you in the know) that had hounds tooth trim, which just goes to show how radical I was being because I've never liked hounds tooth, never worn it, never even tried it on, and planned to never ever wear it. Ha. Times, they are a'changin'.

So I tried this dress-- with the houndstooth trim and large buttons (also something different)-- and it looked pretty good, and I walked out of the dressing room to find a pair of dressy shoes to try on with it. The sales gal wanted to be helpful, and she suggested a pair of black, shiny, very pointy-toed high heels. My first reaction was, "NO. I don't do pointy."

And then I remembered my new plan, and I tried them on.

You know what? They looked good! I HATE pointy toed shoes! But I looked good in them!

Of course, when I looked down at my feet, I felt like an elf. But when I looked in the mirror, I look sleek and sophisticated in my LBD and my pointy-toed pumps. Whaddaya know.

I forgot to take the camera this time, so I can't show you any evidence, but it was an interesting revelation. And an interesting start to my Makeover Adventure.

Next installment coming soon, I hope!

P.S. No, I didn't buy anything. This is just reconnaissance shopping, till I figure out my new style.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fabulous At Forty (-Something)

Friday was our anniversary: Hubby and I have been married 27 years.

We didn't plan anything to celebrate, but MandoNut came out for the weekend, and he insisted on buying us all the ingredients for a fabulous steak dinner. He told us "Happy Anniversary," and then apologized for the fact that I had to cook my own anniversary dinner. I told him that it's a joy-- a joy-- to cook with expensive ingredients and not have to worry about the money.

And then he promptly got sick enough he couldn't eat any of it. He lay on our futon (the one he gave us) for two days, too sick to move, while life swirled around him. We doctored and nursed him and fed him, when he could eat anything, even though he felt bad about being the guy who comes to our house just to be sick.

But really. If you have to be sick, wouldn't you rather be sick where there are friendly faces to take care of you, than all alone in a cold apartment, where there's no one to fix you that soft boiled egg when a little food finally sounds good?

In other news, I finished my "unit study" of The Fashion World. I ended by watching "The Devil Wears Prada," which was interesting, and it was probably more interesting than it would have been had I not been studying fashion already. When the characters threw around designer names, I actually recognized most of them!

There was one line in the movie that caught my attention. One of the characters says something like "This industry is not about inner beauty."

In a way, that is sort of the defining quote of the movie. Fashion industry is all about outward beauty. But there seems to be no relation, except perhaps inversely, between looking good on the outside and beauty on the inside.

Which was a good way for me to wrap up my fascination with fashion, style, and beauty. I have watched a lot of stuff-- makeovers, runway videos, celebrity trends, department store "looks"-- and I balance that with, on the other hand, the scripture that says women's appearance should not be about clothing, and jewelry, and hair. Rather, our beauty should be inward.

Well, I have a hard time believing that that verse means we should be as ugly as we can, for the sake of showcasing our inward beauty! There's a chapter in Ezekiel where God describes Israel as a young girl that he took for his bride, and how he clothed her in fine, embroidered linen, and gave her jewelry--including a nose ring!

The end result of all this has been an interesting thing. I find that there has been a shift in me, somewhere. Up to now, I have been coasting on the fact that I'm small and look young for my age, and still experimenting with as much teenage style as I could get away with. I still felt eighteen. But all of a sudden, I feel like I'm ready to be a grownup. I'm ready to be forty. (Note: I'm 46, and now I'm finally ready to be 40!)

LovelyDaughter and I are planning to go shopping this week, to take a girly day, and I'm going to try on all sorts of clothes, including stuff from the womens department! (rather than just the juniors department). Anything modest gets a fair shake. Because, who knows what I might find? I might find out that I look FABULOUS in something I turned my nose up at before.

Monday, October 6, 2008


That was a sigh of relief.

The newlyweds are home from their month-long trip to Scotland, and they are none the worse for the wear, and are happy to be back.

And we are definitely happy to have them back, and find out for sure that all my fears are unfounded. LovelyDaughter is still LovelyDaughter, even if she is also JD's wife. And JD is still a wonderful young man. (Of course.)

They even brought us gifts! Something that never even crossed my mind, and I feel so grateful and blessed that they thought of it. My gift is a necklace with a piece of preserved heather stem on it--which is much prettier than it sounds--so I have my own piece of Scottish heather.

Oddly, after a month of bee-yoo-tiful sunshine-y weather we have rain today. JD and LovelyDaughter were looking forward to dry sunshine after hiking and camping in a month of rainy weather in Scotland. Ah well, such is the irony of life.

At least they're happy, healthy, and home.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


The count so far:

-Seven quarts of canned pears. I know, not a good count. I still have two bushels of pears slowly rotting on the porch.

-Eighteen quarts of frozen apple slices. That's pretty good.

I've decided that if I have to choose-- which it looks like I am having to-- I will go after apples and let the pears rot. Apples are much more versatile come winter time. Think of all the things you can make out of apples:

apple pie
apple crunch
apple cake
apple prieschka
fried apples
apple compote

Now think of all the things you can make out of pears:

pears in green jello

(*crickets chirping*)

Now my comments will probably possibly be flooded with ideas for using pears.

Actually, bring it on. I need some ideas.

That is, I will if I get to the pears before they rot. Tomorrow I am going to pick and pick up the apples off of our other apple tree. It's a Golden Delicious, and those apples keep their shape when you cook them, and they are fairly sweet, so they work great canned or baked.

The apples I did today and earlier this summer are pretty tart, and get mushy/saucy when they cook, so they make good applesauce and, in my opinion, great pie.

So there you have it-- my points toward being a good Mennonite housewife this week.

(Also adding points are the foods I've been cooking (while preserving): whole wheat bread, apple prieschka, chicken soup with rice, cherry pan kooka (sort of like crepes, or creeps as Swede and MandoNut call them), baked potatoes with greva/cracklings.)

Oh, and by the way, to keep my mind occupied while cutting apples, I have been watching slideshows online of the fall fashion trends. (Why? I don't know. Seems a little inconsistent, doesn't it?)

I've come up with a great all-purpose caption for those pictures of those poor starving girls in those ridiculous outfits:

"Why do you hate me?"

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I Hope This Isn't All The Better I Can Do

I've been trying to be a good Mennonite housewife this week.

I don't think I'm succeeding.

Monday I was tired from our Sunday activities, which involved early morning worship team practice, helping DrummerDude prepare for his first party, and helping host the party in the evening.

Which, by the way, turned out awesome. It's the first time our boys have ever had a young people party; usually we have family parties. This event involved guys and gals age 13 to 26 from three families, and they all got along famously. When they left they all said "We have to do this again! And next time mom and dad have to come!"

Which I think is pretty cool. How many teenagers do you know who want mom and dad to come to their next party?

So anyway.

I was talking about how STINKIN' TIRED I have been this week. It's just ridiculous.

I did manage to stumble around yesterday and pick up the good apples and pears off the ground under our fruit trees. Out of a couple of bushels of pears, we only had energy to get three --THREE!-- quarts ready to can.

Oh, please. It's got to get better than this. You have here a woman who in the past has been capable of canning twenty, thirty, even forty quarts a day. Not a measly THREE.

However, I also did Hubby's laundry, and baked bread, and made dinner, and supper (I know, big whoop, everybody makes meals, but it needed doing, and I DID it.)

I even took an afternoon nap, which, truthfully, I don't do very often. I limit myself to perhaps a fifteen minute snooze on the couch if I just can't keep my eyes open. But yesterday I slept for most of the afternoon, and I was still TOO STINKIN' TIRED to get much done.

Are you getting the idea? I'm STINKIN' TIRED of being STINKIN' TIRED!

But-- today is another day. The fruit waited for me all night, quietly rotting away, and today I will try once again to be a happy, untiring Mennonite housewife.

Friday, September 26, 2008

A Little Bit About Nothing

MB3 and I had a long discussion this morning, mostly about JD and LovelyDaughter and the changes we fear are here. MB3 feels that he has lost his big sister forever. I try to encourage him, but without much conviction, for I too am afraid that she is gone forever. But perhaps we're being hasty. In fact, I HOPE we are being hasty.

I took myself to town today, ostensibly to renew the license on the chipper truck and return library books. But I also sat and read a book at the library, and had a little chat with the guy at the health food store, and spent all the time I wanted trying to choose a notebook at Walmart. (Note: I should have cut back my time at the library and gone to the office supply store.)

Now I'm home, with two shirts for myself: a brown camisole and a green tank top-- $3 each!-- for undershirts for this fall. Also a fresh stash of Dove chocolate, which truly is a splurge, the price of Dove being what it is. I rationalize by saying I'll share; it's not just for me.

I brought home licorice for GuitarGeek and mints for MB3. Stuff I used to do all the time-- out shopping, spending an afternoon to myself, then bringing home trinkets and library books for the family, just because.

It feels good.

I know it's time to make supper-- past time-- but I'm still enjoying being just a bit decadent in my own mild way. I'm not quite ready to jump in and be busy and responsible.