Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year's Eve!



 I couldn't let this day go by without posting one last word for the year.

So I leave you with these thoughts....

This year has had so many wonderful moments in it:

A great year for traveling to see dear friends and family-- from Michigan to Washington (and Texas in between.)

It's been a year of blessings: finding good renters for our Arizona house; family members making it through surgeries and accidents without too many complications. There have been engagements and weddings and births.

Its been a year of growth: creatively, personally, spiritually and physically.

Its been a year for re-connecting with friends I love.

It's been a year for good things.

Its also been difficult...

Two dear friends lost children this year.

Three of my friends lost a parent...all to cancer.

I've got people I love who are struggling in their marriages.

Some friends have dealt with unexpected health issues, some with chronic illness.

There have been messes, some of my own making.

Yes, there has been unimaginable joy and deep, deep, sorrow.

Sometimes, when the weather get colder and the days get longer, the sorrow is what lingers in my mind... My heart... My focus...

Until I read this:

One day we shall see that nothing - literally nothing- that could have increased our eternal happiness has been denied us and that nothing - literally nothing - that could have reduced that happiness has been left with us.      
-J.I.Packer
God is in control. In 2009. In 2010.

As I look back at all the sorrows and blessings of the year that has past. I am reminded that life isn't temporal, there's so much more...but in the meantime we have a full life to live, and we aren't left to ourselves in times of joy or sorrow:

In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
Romans 8:37

I am humbled and grateful as I look to the year ahead, with trembling anticipation, knowing whatever comes, blessing or sorrow, I can hold Gods truth close to my heart.

I am convinced that neither death nor life, 
neither angels nor demons, 
neither the present nor the future, 
nor any powers, 
neither height nor depth, 
nor anything else in all creation, 
will be able to separate us from the love of God 
that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39


 One day we shall see....

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Put Down the Duckie

I've realized something about myself.

I may be addicted to hobbies.

Case in point: Since I already blog, sew, embroider, run, bake, play guitar, fold paper, bead, scrapbook and craft, I thought I might add knitting.

On the first of December I had a new friend over for a late night sewing session over the embroidery machine and a glass of wine.

She needed to monogram a few baby blankets on Clinton the Embroidery Machine and I wanted her to teach me the basics of knitting. After all, she is the Knitting Evangelist.

Anyway, she taught me the knit and the purl stitch on needles she brought from home and I was immediately hooked.

So much so that the next day, unable to get to the craft store, I took out mechanical pencils, with the lead push in, and began to practice what she taught me.

I wish I had taken a picture. Because while I was practicing my knit/purl skillz, pencils aren't really meant to be needles.

Soon I was able to get my hands on some needles of my own. After many attmepts I finally got my kitting groove, and now I am unstoppable.



Did you know that you can find all sorts of videos on YouTube that will show you EXACTLY how to knit? It's amazing.

Anyway, last night I stayed up way too late learning a new way to cast on, called a long-tail cast on, and then I learned how to make what will eventually be a flower.

I already have my heart set on making these. In time, but hopefully in time for spring. I've always had a thing for chickens.

However, today I have to put down the needles--bunny trail: now I am singing Put Down the Ducky if You Want to Play the Saxaphone...a song I sing often to my kids (and myself) when I need to walk away from something in order to accomplish something else.

My goals for today are to do my laundry, make sure the kids fold their laundry, and the help The Girl clean out her room--from floor to closet and all places in between.

...Put down the needles! Put down the needles! Put down the needles, if you want to have a tidy hooooommmmmeeee!!!!...Put down the needles, Put! Down! The! Needles!..... put down the needles if you want to have a tidy home........(music fades out...)


Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Re-Occurring Dream

For four years I attended a school that was also a convent.

It was a small parochial school, quietly set in the middle of town. Most people didn't even know it was there.

As a matter of fact, this school was set back in a preserved corner of desert that was like walking back in time-- with dusty roads, and a very old adobe ranch-style home as the center of its campus.

We had Chapel every day, with mass on Wednesdays.

The founders, administrators, and a few teachers of this school were nuns, dressed in all-white habits. They each looked the same by outward appearance, but their personalities were far from identical.

There was Sister A, a sweet-yet-spunky soul, who had a 1000 watt smile and a laugh to match. She loved to watch Magnum P.I., most specifically Tom Sellack.

There was Sister AC, who worked in the kitchen, preparing the food for the boarding students and the teachers. She didn't like nonsense, and was a hard worker. We had to pass through the kitchen to get to three different classrooms...if  one was smart, when she was working you didn't linger in the kitchen for very long.

There was Sister MC, a soft spoken and gentle woman, who was often sickly. But her long and lanky frame was calming in the hustle and bustle of our little school.

There was Mother Virginia, a tiny go-getter, in her late 70's, who drove the biggest car in town with the long veil of her wimple blowing in the desert wind. We loved her because she was such a delight to talk to, always listening and appearing interested when she spoke to you. Her size and age made her appear unassuming.

Looks can be deceiving.

In ninth grade I got caught looking at another girls math test (commonly known as cheating) and was immediately sent to Mother's office. Her quiet disappointment and firm reprimand let me know that there was giant living beneath those ivory robes.

And then...

There was Sister ML. The Disciplinarian. I'll never forget being asked to take a note to her from another teacher. I walked down the dirt road through the center of school to the building where she taught fifth/sixth grade.

She wasn't there.

So I walked to the kitchen where she was pouring Palmolive into a students open mouth.

When she finished squirting about a tablespoon of soap upon this girls tongue, she closed the bottle with a snap, and said with a low tone and firm authority, "Now swish...You will not again take the name of the Lord in vain."

To say that I silently high-tailed it out of the kitchen would be an understatement. I decided that the note would be better delivered to the top of her desk.

Sister ML wasn't all prickles and consequences. She had a soft side that she would show students from time to time. She was the first teacher to encourage me to sing, and she was generous with hugs, if one dared to approach her.

She is the reason I am writing this post.

Sister ML eventually became Mother Superior over our little school, years after I was gone, until she died several years ago.

I was sad when I heard the news, but I hadn't really thought about her as I moved about my life. Its been over 25 years since I was apart of that little school.

What's weird is that for the last 3-4 months I keep dreaming about her. Even last night, she was in my dreams and I told her, "I'm always dreaming about you."

The mind is so funny. Who knows why she is popping up into my thoughts when the day is over, but I am grateful. My years of walking the campus in my blue plaid skirt and white blouse were good years, and I am happy to remember them.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The "M" Recipes



If your anything like me, the last thing you need is another recipe for sugar filled deliciousness.

But I'm going to give you one (or three) anyway.

Honestly, I am ready and willing to give up the sugar for a day or two...or at least until after lunch.

This girl has been sugarfied.


Before recipes though, I hope you and yours had an awesome Christmas.

The La Vida House had a wonderful Christmas. It was restful and quiet. I spent much of Christmas Eve and Day between silent contentment, and thankful weepiness.

Oh, and I spent 7 hours on Christmas Day (and 5 hours the day after, but who's counting?) helping The Girl put 3500 Lego pieces together, making a house and a medieval market.


This was my first time ever building something with Lego's.

The Mister and both kids are longtime builders.

Lets just say that after I got over my "oh-my-goodness-these-pieces-are-not-in-any-order--and-oh-goodness-it-seems-like-a-big-ole-mess" I really had a great time!

Speaking of builders...When The Mister and I were making our lists and checking them twice, we decided that we would give The Boy (who enjoys making things from wood) his own wood working tools and safety gear, and the Mister would help The Boy make a work bench that was a smaller version of his own.

The Mister had all the supplies ready and waiting, and yesterday he and The Boy built a workbench.

This is a picture of one happy boy:




Our Holy-day was good. Really, really good.

OK, now to give you what you came for:


Marshmallows, Mexican Wedding Cookies and Molasses Cookies:


Marshmallows


2 TBLS Gelatin (unflavored)
1/4 cup cold water
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1TBLS corn syrup
1 TBLS vanilla
powder sugar
corn flour

Dissolve gelatin in 1/4 cup water. Set Aside.

In large saucepan cook sugar, water, syrup to 240 degrees. Occasionally giving a stir with a wooden spoon.

While waiting for sugar to boil up to 240. Take Parchment paper and line a 9x13 cake pan. Then GENEROUSLY sprinkle pwdr sugar and cornflour on parchment. Set aside.

Put gelatin in mixing bowl (use whisk attachment if have a freestanding mixer) Slowly pour sugar mixture into bowl while whisk is on medium speed.

Allow to mix until candy turns white and is doubled in size.

Add vanilla.

Pour over prepared cake pan. Sprinkle GENEROUSLY with more sugar/flour and then carefully use your hands to pat it down into pan.

Wait an hour or so to completely cool and set.

Cut into squares and roll into sugar flour mix left in pan.

Enjoy!

Mexican Wedding Cakes--This is my Mom's signature cookie. I cannot remember a Christmas without them.
1 cup butter (room temp)
2-1/4 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
1tsp water
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup sifted pwdr sugar.
1/4 tsp salt

Set oven to 325.
Mix butter, sugar, vanilla, water and half the flour.

Add rest of flour. Add Pecans.

Shape into 1 inch balls. and place in oven for 20 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned.

Let cookies cool slightly.

Roll them in powder sugar.

Eat them.

Yummy.


Molasses Cookies --This is my mother-in-laws recipe. These are very tasty.
3/4 cup soft shortening
1 cup dark brown sugar (packed)
1 egg unbeaten
1/4 cup molasses
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp slat
2 tsp baking soda
1tsp ginger
1 tsp clove
1 tsp cinnamon

combine shortening, sugar, egg. eat til fluffy (have I ever told you I LOVE the word fluffy. I do.)
Add molasses. sift dry ingredients and add to mix (I never sift, I just add) Mix well. Chill dough thouroughly.

Shape into 1 inch balls and roll in sugar.

Bake 350 for 12-15 minutes.

Watch them disappear.

All right. I gotta run. Today I am cleaning house and taking names.

And then, if the kids play there attitudes right, I might take them to a movie.

Happy (last) Monday (of the year!)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Birthday Surprise

I am so grateful for this little spot on the net.

Especially after nights like last night.

The Carpoolqueen is such a sweet and true friend and I knew I wanted to celebrate her birthday in some way, but with the holidays, I figured it would be too hard to get together.

But plans change....and getting together was not only possible, but was totally do-able!

So that's what we did.

I kidnapped her (but not before calling her to tell her I was lost in her hood, and "could you help me get to your house so I can kidnap you?")

Then I had to stall her for an hour and a half. Because reservations weren't until 7:30.

Now, if you have a secret? I can keep it til the cows come home....but if you have a surprise? Well, all bets are off. Sometimes my excitement can get the best of me and I have a hard time containing myself.

All was fine and good, and we stopped by a restaurant to have a pre-dinner glass of wine.



I learned that when surprising people you should always have something on the stomach. Because you may or may not take three sips of wine (and feel like a very cheap date), and have to ask your kidnappee to drive to the next destination. Only to arrive 10 minutes early.

Then you might have to think of some reason to sit in your car for 10 minutes in the cold parking lot, because your co-conspirators may, or may not, be seated yet...

Heather, Sandy, Gretchen, and Amy were ready and waiting (dressed in black!) when we arrived.

And I breathed a HUGE sigh of relief that all had gone according to plan.

There was laughing, and presents and tasting of Key Lime Pie and Creme Brulee...

I even got home without getting lost.

CPQ - Happiest of happy birthdays my friend...may God bless you and keep you. And may you grow even closer to Him and those you love in the years to come! Thanks for celebrating with us!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Recipe For You...

Today I am taking off my apron.

But probably not for long.

I've been a whirling dervish in the kitchen over the past few days.

I've made: Gingerbread Cookies, Sugar Cookies, Sugared Walnuts, Molasses Cookies, Marshmallows, Peanut Butter Balls, Mexican Weddings Cakes, and Godiva Liquor Truffles.

Oh, and I also made Sweet Corn Cake--which in all honestly may be my favorite of all because I can make it all winter long! I've made this several times and it comes out tasty and good every. single. time.

I'm not one to be stingy when it comes to recipes. If you like recipes, today's a good day!

However, I am going to start with the Sugared Walnuts, because I promised the Carpoolqueen I would send her the recipe and I haven't taken 10 minutes to sit down and type.

So this is for her:

LVCG's Sugared Walnuts:
Preheat Oven to 300 degrees.


Line a jelly roll pan with foil and spray with butter spray.


1 egg white
1/2 tsp water
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup cinnamon
1/2 lb walnuts


Put walnuts in a gallon size ziplock bag.


Pour sugar salt cinnamon over walnuts.


IN a separate bowl, mix egg white and H2O. 


Pour over nuts and stuff.


Close bag and shake, shake shake. It will look very messy and gooey.


Pour all onto the prepared pan.


Cook for 35-40 minutes. Mixing once half way through. Let cool. they will get crunchy when completely cool.

They are good.

Almost too good.

But I sometimes sprinkle mine on a salad to feel better about myself.

OK...next!

Peanut Butter Balls
1- 8oz smooth or chunky p-butter
1 stick of butter 
1 lb powder sugar
1 tsp vanilla


Mix together, shape into balls. Place on wax paper. Chill while you make chocolate.


I used Geherdelli Melting Chocolate for the outer coating but you could use:


4 oz of semi-sweet chocolate
2 Tbls butter or margarine
1 square inch of paraffin
5 drops of vanilla


Melt together in a double boiler and dip cold balls into coating and remove. Place on wax paper. chill. (If you use this recipe, it usually has to be doubled to cover all peanut butter balls.)

These are good. If I do say so myself.

And last but not least:

Kellie's Corn Bread Cake (really, this isn't the name, but I'm going with it)


1/2 cup of cornmeal
1-1/2 cups flour
2/3 cups sugar
1 TBLS baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 (generous) TBLS of melted butter
 1 TBLS honey
2 eggs
1-1/4 cup milk


Pour all ingredients into a bowl and mix. Pour mix into a greased rectangular cake pan. Cook at 375 for 25-30 minutes or until slightly browned on the top and center is set.

It is a sweet, light and fluffy corn cake that tastes good the next day too!

All right...tomorrow I will try to post for the "M" recipes: Marshmallows, Molasses Cookies and Mexican Wedding Cakes!

Happy Christmas Eve Eve!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Carolin' CoffeeGal


I love when I get the opportunity to play my guitar for kids.

They never know when you make a mistake, and they usually always sing with you.

Yesterday was the Girl Scout Christmas party, and I was in charge of the Make-a-Snow(girl) station, a project that required the girls to wrap another girl in toilet paper-- a relatively quick endeavor. Then I would pull out my guitar and sing carols to keep the girls busy until it was time to go to the next station.

I have played guitar at the kids school nearly every Christmas. But last year, our first to homeschool, I didn't get the opportunity to play. I had forgotten how much I like to sing with kids.

It was interesting because I didn't have to worry about singing only non-religious Christmas songs this year. Which was refreshing!

I remember the one year that I played for The Girls class Winter Party, I wasn't allowed to sing any songs that mentioned Jesus, or the word Christmas, because there was one child in the class who wasn't allowed to attend any party that celebrated a holiday or birthday. That year I played Jingle Bells and Frosty the Snowman...over and over again.

On a different note, all my packages have been mailed, the Christmas cards are sent, the shopping is done. Now I can focus on a few little holiday happenings that the kids and I are looking forward to, and then my big baking extravaganza starts this weekend.

So. Very. Excited.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Ransom For Captives

I love it when words that I've been singing for years suddenly come alive.

It happened to me this morning, while it was still dark, and the day was new.

"O come, O come Emmanuel, and ransom captives...that mourn in lonely exile here..."

What I heard afresh is this: Emmanuel, God with us, He ransoms captives.

He is with the lonely, the bitter, the angry.

He's with the broken, the sick.

He's with those who have received bad news, or those without family.

He helps those who are confused.

He comforts those who are frightened.

He loves those who feel unlovable.

He feeds the hungry- quenches the thirst of those with nothing to drink.

He is Living Water in a dry and weary land...

What holds you captive?


Come.


He's ransomed this captive.


"Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee... "

Monday, December 14, 2009

Meeting Kristin



If I could give one of my top reasons I love blogging so much, it would have to be the In Real Life Meetings.

When I started blogging over four years ago I never imagined how many wonderful women I would get the privilege to meet: face-to-face.

I had the pleasure of taking tea with Kristin of Fill My Cup .


Among other things Kristin is a tea drinker. I had heard through the grapevine that she actually serves an amazing tea party, but for our first meeting we met at a local hotel for afternoon tea.

I was fashionably late because I had taken a wrong turn, so she was sitting in the lobby with her golden curls when I walked in from the grey, cold afternoon. She came bearing a gift--her own label of coffee...seriously, roasted in her own back yard. Its good too.

We slipped into easy conversation, and I tried to not giggle as I felt like a kid who had snuck (sneaked? snook?) into an elegant experience. I just knew that the wait-staff might eventually find out that I couldn't possibly be refined enough to take tea like a lady.

So I just followed what Kristin did, because she knew what to do.

She was so sweet as she confessed her concern that I might be served something with mayo.

There was only one thing on the menu that was suspicious: deviled eggs.  Which she politely declined to eat.

So I did too. (whew!)

Everything else was delicious. And I tasted it all so I know. The only thing I tasted but didn't eat was the tapioca in the asian soup spoon.


Everything else was delicious including the scones, which didn't last long enough to be pictured.

Kristin had her handy-dandy iPhone, in its adorable zebra wrap, so we were lucky to get pictures at all...after chanting "Don't forget the camera" all morning long, I promptly left home without it.

Kristin, thank you for being brave enough to meet with a stranger for tea on a rainy afternoon. It lifted this CoffeeGal's spirits, and I cannot wait to do it again!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Taking a Stand

Hey y'all I' am posting again today because my friend Constance over at FindingBalance brought to my attention to this Huffington Post article: Ralph Lauren Boycott: Retaking Beauty.

You know that I have been very verbal about the issues of eating disorders and body issues that I have struggled with in my personal life. However, as I raise children in this post-modern society, these issues become more and more important to me.

I will be signing up for the boycott of all things Ralph Lauren...not because I think he will stop, but because its a step in "Changing the culture and ending a crises."

Linky Loo

I've read a couple of really great posts recently.

While I am taking a little bloggers Christmas Break, I thought I would direct you to some posts I am reading.

For today:

This is TJ. She is a "real-life" friend of mine. This post is beautiful.

I love to read posts that I full of Truth. This post, written by Michelle (guest blogger at FindingBalance), is one of them.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Missing You

Just thought I would check in...

Its been a crazy couple of weeks and I am using this time to regroup, get organized, and to get my focus back on the true Spirit of Christmas.

For those who have emailed and asked about Marie. She is still in the hospital. She ended up having major surgery and had some complications afterward. Please pray that the procedures they have done (and redone!) will work; pray that M will be free of pain and that she will get to go home soon. She appreciates your prayers more than you know!

I'm trying not to get worried over the (approaching) 400 posts in my Google Reader and just focus on finishing up all the things that must get done before the end of the year. There are too many things to list....so instead I'll join Gretchen in a short Glatitude List.

1. I am grateful for this lunch I am eating.

2. I am grateful for the friends and family that I am thinking about as I address these envelopes.

3. I am thankful for the cold weather and my ability to be in a warm home.

4. I am thankful that I serve a creative God and get to participate in His gift of creativeness.

 5. I am thankful for John 1:4....and the perspective it brings as we celebrate the birth of a Savior.

Happy GladiTuesday!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

We're Working...We're Working


I can't remember the last time I was blogless for so long!

Although my hands have not touched a keyboard in four days, they have not been idle.

I've been making gifts for my nieces and nephews.

In case you happen to be one of those precious kiddos, go do something else....this post isn't for you.

I've made handbags:



And pencil holders:


And tool belts:


Oh, and here's a peek of the special order by a sweet blogger friend: Mother/Daughter Aprons. They are unfinished in this picture, I'll have to post the finished product when I have better light! They are on the way Chel!


Here's a special order applique scarf for a girl who just begged me to make her one.


Ok, Ok....I'll confess, I made that for myself. However, I did it because as soon as some fabric arrives in the mail I am going to make a couple more scarves for gifts....so I needed to be sure it was gonna look all right.

Anyway, the blog may be a little quiet for the next week or so, until I can get caught up on life.

But, can I ask a GIGANTIC favor.....

It's huge, I'll warn you.

My sweet-in-real-life friend (turned blogger) Marie is in the hospital today, and will likely be there until the weekend. It would mean so much to me if you could go over to this post and give her some encouragement, or a funny story, or just let her know that you have said a little prayer for her. If you only have time for one comment today, forego commenting here and go say hello over there...you can tell her I sent you.

I am hoping that we might load her comment box up and lift her spirits!

Happy Thursday!

Monday, November 30, 2009

One More Day...

Typically Mondays aren't my favorite, but today I'm happy to have one.

I get to spend this entire day with The Mister.

The best part?

For at least six hours we get to spend this day alone.

Well, if you don't count the other people at the mall.

After 16 years of knowing this man, I still really like him.

He's speaking my love language this morning....he said he'd buy me a latte. So I'm not gonna take too much time here on the blog.

So....talk to me....

Tell me one favorite memory that happened on your Thanksgiving....or tell me if you braved Black Friday....or if you are hoping that today, when you hit the mall, everybody will be at home on the laptops for Cyber Monday...

Happy Day!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

From My Humble Table To Yours...


Happy Thanksgiving!


“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, 
do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, 
giving thanks to God the Father through him.”-

~Col 3:17~

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Random Thoughts of a Happy CoffeeGal



The La Vida Academy is officially on Thanksgiving vacation!

Which mean the Sweet Shop is now open full time.

Today I hope to do a twenty-minute-tidy on the house, and then I'm locking myself in the office for the day.

Today I am working on these for my beautiful and sweet pre-teen nieces:


I'm tempted to make one for myself....

I'll probably need to find some time to bathe my dog.

She ran out last night in the rain and found some nastiness to roll in....

If I didn't love her so much I'd be tempted to make her be an outside dog for good.

I also need to start the dough for my Southern Refrigerator Biscuits....which is a lovely, super-buttery, sweet bread I always make for Thanksgiving.

Oh, and yes, I need to take  the turkey out of the freezer...thanks for reminding me.

Some of you already know this....but I get my bird drunk every year. I already posted about this here (four years ago????) ...but I get such a kick out of it that I'm telling you again.

Ok seriously, how does time go so fast? And how much better does my kitchen look with the white cabinets!

But back to the turkey... several years ago when we were living in Texas I was so excited because I found a turkey on sale for .28/pound (or something ridiculous like that) and so I picked the BIGGEST turkey I could find.

I didn't take into consideration that we are just a party of four. Nor did I consider that half of our family was under the age of 5...I was temporarily blinded by .28/pound.

I was so proud when I came home with a 25 pound turkey. I had to throw out nearly everything on the top shelf of the freezer to get it to fit, but it was totally worth it.

Of course I forgot to pull the turkey whopper out of the freezer, and it wasn't until Wednesday morning when I realized my mistake.

I called the turkey hotline and the turkey expert told me to quickly take my bird, and put him in the bath tub filled with cool water.

So that year the bird got dunked twice. Once in the tub and once in the keg.

Oh, and also....do you know how long a 25lb. bird takes to cook? And how much meat you get??

Alot.  We ate turkey of one variation or another for a very- long- time.

But look at the memories I have.

This year my bird weighs a whopping 12 pounds. Perfect.

How about you? Are you cooking this year? Will yours be a big feast with all the extended family, or a small affair like ours? What is your favorite Turkey Day dish?

Happy Tuesday!

PS: I do have some time scheduled to catch up on blog reading...and to check in on all you new gals who have been recently leaving comments! Thank you for stopping by, and saying hello!, and I look forward to using some time this holiday week to pop-by your place!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanks Giving

It's quiet here this morning.

It's cold and rainy, and yet, the day ahead holds promise.

I am thankful for that.

I love this week of Thanksgiving...and the quiet here this morning is lending itself to pondering...

I'm thankful for...family far away.

On Friday I had two telephone conversations:

In the early afternoon I spoke with my sister-in-law. We hadn't talked in a very long time, but as good friends often do, we slipped into encouraging conversation immediately.

Much later that night I had a conversation with my brother. He had just arrived at home from the hospital.

He's a police officer, and while on duty he was hit on his motorcycle by someone who ran a red light.

It was rush hour, on a very busy intersection...he was thrown 75 feet from his bike.

He was banged up, but for all intents and purposes, his injuries laugh in the face of the tragedy that could have been.

To hear his voice that night was soothing to my soul.

I am thankful...that his life was spared.

On Sunday we celebrated The Misters birthday with steak and chocolate cake, and spent the evening around our fire-pit in the back yard.

I am thankful for....a husband that is strong and tender, smart and wise, loving and honorable. I cannot figure out how in the world I got to be his beloved...but I am so very grateful.

I am thankful for... my church family.

We are a small community and last night we met for our traditional Thanksgiving meal.

After dinner we had the opportunity to give voice to our gratitude. As a handful of the men and women stood up to give thanks it was clear that we have each been given to this community for specific and real reasons.

Honestly, I have often doubted what my purpose might be for this little church, but last night, I didn't doubt.

I am thankful...that God has a very deep and meaningful purpose...for my brother, his family, my church family, for me....

He has great purpose for you. 

Don't believe otherwise.

Sometimes it is difficult to see, or to understand...

So, I am especially thankful for this:

"I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out—
plans to take care of you, 
not abandon you, 
plans to give you the future you hope for."
~Jeremiah 29:11
(The Message)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Raising Enablers


One of the things I love about my kids is that they know me.

They really do.

They know that my favorite animal is the giraffe.

They know that I don't really have a favorite color, but if you press me to give you one I'll tell you pink.

They know that I love reading and I look forward to Wednesday Night Date Night with their dad (aka: Wine Wednesdays...I almost always have a glass of wine with dinner on Wednesday.)

They know I enjoy homemade gifts, and that I have this super-love for babies.

They know that the songs Happy Birthday and the Star Spangled Banner will make me cry every. blessed. time.

However, if you asked them what advice you would give someone about me they would say:

"Don't talk to her before the first two cups of coffee."

Sad, but true.

Yesterday, the kids were building Legos while listening to Old Yeller on an audio disk.

When we were done, The Boy came to me and said, I made you something!


Its a state-of-the-art coffee maker that cleans up after itself, with a JUMBO sized coffee cup.

Yes.

They know me.

I love them so....

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Lessons from the Coffeegal

Last week I was very concerned because our copy/fax/printer/scanner wouldn't work properly.

( I was also griping, because I buy elastic pony-tail holders by the dozens, but can't ever find one when I need it.)

Finally, on Sunday, we had a moments time to sit down before lunch to figure out the issue with the machine.

And by "we" I mean, The Mister.

He got out the manual, and Q-tips, and cleaning solution, and pushed buttons, and cleaned rollers, and did a bunch of really cool and official looking stuff.

(Have I mentioned lately that he's exceedingly handsome when he's trying to save the day? Which he does very often....but digress.)

His diagnosis?

We might have to take it to an "'official dealer" to solve the problem.

All I could hear was "ka-ching!" ringing in my ears.  Of course this would happen right before Christmas.

We decided to go drown our sorrows in a turkey sandwich.

After lunch he went back to the machine, just to take one last look.

Within a few moment he starts to laugh.

Not that funny "hee-hee-hee!"-- this is hysterical laugh.

It's the "ha, ha, ha"-- I cannot believe what I just found in this expensive machine laugh.


He reached into the depths of the inner workings and pulled out a black, elastic pony tail holder.

Oops.

And now?

The machine works like a charm. Better than ever.

What have I learned from this?

I've learned to always take one last look, and as a bonus, I figured out why my hair accessories are disappearing.

The copy/fax/scanner/printer machine is eating my elastic pony tail holders.


(Since I am not entirely sure I can blame the kids for this issue, that's my story and I sticking to it.)

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

She's Watching Me



"You're so skinny."

Three magic words I've always longed to hear...

Until they came from my daughter.

For those of you who are new readers, 18 months ago I shared a secret here on the blog. Mostly because I wanted to bring attention to the True Campaign, a ministry that is dear to my heart.

I don't struggle with eating disorder as I did in the early part of this decade, but honestly there are still days when I choose to think things about my physical self that just aren't true; when I let feelings and the culture I live in dictate what I think is attractive.

Several week ago I received catalogues from two very popular female oriented department stores. The models on the covers were very...willowy. The Mister saw those catalogues sitting on the the counter, and was immediately angry.

"Kellie, the girls on those covers are way too thin. Why do women think that's attractive?"

My answer?

"It isn't the women I'm looking at, its the product, the clothing, the beautiful household things they sell."

He stared at me long and hard and I knew he wasn't buying it. Without any words, he called my bluff.

I know he is right.

Skinniness still holds a powerful attraction to this former disordered eater...I no longer have the energy or drive to wear skinniness anymore...but I'm still sometimes seduced by its call.

And now, its slowly, deceitfully, almost innocently, calling my nine year old daughter.

I've always thought I was so good about keeping my issues contained around the kids. I don't talk about dieting, I don't weigh myself with them around, I try to be balanced in what we eat--not talking about certain foods being "good" or "bad". I now exercise in moderation; enjoy people and things around me.

Being outwardly grateful for the body I have...

But, we're only as strong as our weakest link, and the catalogues on my counter tell it all.

If my daughter can't escape from the images that bombard our minds in the safety of her own home, where can she rest?

The truth is I look at those models and sometimes wish...

And my daughter?

Well, she looks at me.

Her statement that day she as watched me dress rang an alarm from the depths of my soul that refuses to be silenced.

In that moment of truth, a deep place I hadn't realized was chained to the bondage of 'thin' was awakened. Released. --A tiger no longer caged, who's cubs are at risk.

I may not be able to stop all things that stand in the face of my daughter and beg her to compare herself to an unmeasurable standard, but I can will take her hand and lead by example.

She may be called by pictures, by culture, by peer pressure, by fashion, by media, and all things that "set the standards"....

...but, she is watching me.




~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



If you are not familiar with the True Campaign go on over and check it out. On this page you can be a part of the True Campaign by signing up. If you only have time to do one thing today, don't leave a comment here and use that time to check them out. It's time -- Challenge the Culture and End the Crises.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Ladies Who Lunch (And other fun stuff)

Thanks to all who played If I Came To Your House Today on Friday.

That was some serious fun, and I look forward to doing it again in the future!

This weekend was chock-full of exciting events and it all started out with a lunch date with The Carpool Queen on Friday. She had some VIP's in town for a short stay, and was generous enough to share a couple of hours of her visiting time with me tagging along.

I was very excited to meet the ever witty and famous ImNotNed. He actually has his own blog, but I found him through the comment section over at CPQ's place.

Anyway, ImNotNed (who really isn't Ned, but whom I almost called Ned five bagillion times) was just as fun in person as the guy he plays on the net. And I would say that even if he hadn't bought everybody's lunch. (Thanks again!)

I really enjoyed talking with Imnotned's beautiful wife, Momologuer.

I hope I didn't appear too weird.

You see, she reminded me of someone, so I kept staring at her while my brain was in overload trying to figure it all out.

I kept wishing they were gonna be here awhile so that I could kidnap CPQ and Momologuer for the afternoon. I just knew that we would be kindred spirits, should time allow. (Hmmm, I've seen her somewhere....)

How did I know?

Well, other than the fact that Momologuer seemed very calm, relaxed, and personable, in her beautiful winter-white wear, but when she found out I was on the way to Michael's for a few crafty things she dug in her purse to see if she might have a coupon I could use.

Friends, that is love...to share a Michael's coupon with a stranger.

(who does she remind me of?)


As we said goodbye and walked out into the rain I was still trying to figure out who Momologuer looked like...when I got into the car and put the key in the ignition it came to me...

Kate Hudson....she totally looks like Kate Hudson.

On a complete random note....to say that I am not an adventurous eater would be the understatement of the year. I am especially a not a fan of anything that has anything to do with cream, or cream sauce-- anything that is colored white, really. (Sweet things and coffee creamer excluded.)

Listen, I never said I didn't have issues.

But for some weird reason--and I am not sure why--when I am with the CPQ I try to be very foody forward.

Case in point: Chicken Pot Pie Soup.

It was rainy and terribly cold outside and I knew soup was the answer. Normally I would go for French Onion or Chicken Veggie, but when the waitress walked up I ordered a big bowl of the Chicken Pot Pie soup like I had just won the Dairy Queen crown.

Next time I won't be such a poser.

Ok, this post is getting long...fast foward, Coffeegal.

Saturday we went to Richmond VA, got lost downtown in the middle of a marathon, toured a musuem, and a historic home, went to a wedding receiption for some friends, drove home, slept late Sunday, made french bread, read in the first sunshine we had had in almost a week, crashed in bed last night, and now I am here. Whew!

One side note: In the middle of all that activity I tried the Peppermint Chocolate Shake at Chik-fil-A. I had heard rave reviews on Twitter and other blogs.

Don't hate me, but....I'm not a fan. It's like drinking a gravel milkshake. It tastes good, but all the crunched up candy cane is like drinking rocks.

However, to confuse you even more, since I have written my disdain for all things creamy, I do actually like one Egg Nog shake during this season...

I know, I even confuse myself...

Happy Monday!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Carnival: If You Came to My House Today

***Updated!!!! For some reason the Mr Linky link is requiring that you click on it to add your link, or see the links of those already posted. Be sure to click the Mr. Linky page to go Visit Others at Their House Today!***

Step right up!

For three tickets, or the price of linking your blog up in Mr. Linky (below), you can join this carnival!

If you don't have a blog, then just look around, and enjoy the ride!

I will leave this carnival open all weekend. But then I'm packing it up and we're movin' on into the next week of blogging.

***if you are unsure as to what a carnival is, or what this carnival is about, click here.***

With out further adieu:

If You Came To My House Today...

If you came to my house today. Yes!
You'd see that I've much here to say, But
The talk is diversion,
For those with aversion,
from the dog hair that lies yonder way.



(And those are also framed pictures that I have yet to hang up since we moved back....its only been a year. See...that fur ball almost blends in with the hardwood.)

If you came to my house today...
You'd see that the sky is quite gray,
Inside we'd be warm
From that cold, wet storm.
Sipping coffee, or tea, hooray!


If you came to my house today...
You'd see my desk's great dismay.
This cre-a-tive mind,
Is messy you'll find,
For she crafts as if at a buffet.


If you came to my house today...
You'd see this brown couch right away.
We'd sit and we'd chat.
I excel at that!
We'd be happy with our small soiree.


If you came to my house today...
You'd not see perfection. No way!
There's dirt, socks, and dust.
Wash pile is robust...
But I'd choose friendship o'er work anyday!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Coming soon: Carnival!!!

Who doesn't love a carnival?

The rides. The fried bacon.

The homemade jam. The fried bacon.

The men with missing teeth running the rickety rides. The fried bacon.

.....uh, wait a minute.

Scratch that.....

I'm not a huge lover of bacon. Although frying can make some things better.

Case in point, I went to a Cuban restaurant last night. I had the Ropa Vieja. It was delicious! But the best part? The fried green bean appetizers dipped in guacamole.

Mmm Mmm good!

But that's not why I am here today.

Where were we? oh yes! Carnivals.

I'm having one right here at the La Vida House on Friday.

Admission?

You write something to finish this prompt:

If you came to my house today...


You can make a list. Write an essay. Do a pictorial. Make a cartoon. Have a puppet show. Whatever. Just tell me what would happen if I, and a million people from the WWW came to your house today....or tomorrow, or  6am in the morning when you were supposed to be having quiet time. (Not that I know anything about that.)

When you've finished writing, come on over here and put your link into Mr. Linky.

Sorry, no fried bacon, but I assure you that when you ride on this bloggy ride you'll get a full-toothed smile.

Now, for an about-face, and with as much sincerity and respect I can give to the written word, I want to say this....

It's Veterans Day.

The kids and I have been studying the Civil War.

600,000 Americans died in that war.

Men and women have fought (and fight!) for this country... To win the right for me to sit here, and sip my coffee, and type these words.

I am the daughter of a Veteran who served in Vietnam.

I am the wife of a Veteran who served in the Gulf War, and who still serves his country today.

I am proud of those who serve the greatest country in the world.

To these veterans and to the ones I have never met, thank you.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

10 on the 10th


It is once again time for 10 on the 10th: Hosted by Mer at Life at 7000 Feet

Which is fun because did you realize today is 11/10/09?

Speaking of random....I present

Ten (more) Extraordinarily Random Things:

10. At night I have been weirded out while I am down stairs alone because a strange sound happens, and it sounds like it could be in the garage. Turns out, it just the ice maker.

9. I am reading so many different things right now that make me think-y. Which is a good thing-y.

8. I am going to host a carnival at the end of this week that I really want you to join. It's inspired by the writing prompts of Kellie's Second Grade Stories. The topic? 


If You Came To My House Today....

More details to follow, but if you want to play I'm thinking Friday the 13th is the day!

7. There are still tomatoes growing in my garden, even though we have already had a couple nights of freezing weather.

6. I'm contemplating a Twitter hiatus. I don't like thinking thoughts in 140 characters or less. It's hindering my think-yness.

5. I made dinner last night and surprised my family with a  candle lit and decorated table. They all wanted to know if someone special was coming over.

4. That made me little sad. But sadness quickly faded by the look on The Girls face when I said, "Yes. The three of you!"

3. The dog is laying on the floor beside me and her stomach is gurgling so very loud.

2. I hope to learn applique this week on Clinton the Embroidery Machine.

1. My favorite quote I've read this week is this:

The epitome of sophistication is utter simplicity.

- Maya Angelou

Monday, November 09, 2009

Two Posts In One Day!




I'm living on the wild side today.

I'm posting twice.

It's kind of like lightening, only without all the pain of electricity and stuff.


I wanted to tell you all about Saturday.

It was so fun.

I woke up early (for a Saturday) and went to my office with some coffee and got my Crafter on.

I never got out of my PJ's. Not even to make pizza for dinner. The Girl was at a party, The Mister was helping a friend, The Boy and his friend were out in the woods doing things that boys do....I heard that there may have been a magnifying glass and some burning leaves, but I was crafting, so I don't really know...

All this to say, I was left to my self with Clinton the Embroidery Machine, and Kiki the Kuerig.

I haven't actually named the Keurig Kiki.

But I might...

I finished up my secret project....Here's a peek:


I also finished that sweet Gingerbread Girl ornament pictured above.


And made a few aprons.


Which I might have placed in my etsy shop.

Oh, and I made my "To Make" Christmas list.

It was an awesome day!

Then, as if it couldn't get much better, Sunday after church The Mister and I had lunch at the house of some dear friends of ours. They fed us spaghetti and bread and red wine, while we sat on the outside porch in perfect weather.

It was lovely.

Oh, and on Sunday I did actually get dressed.

Lest you start to think I lived a charmed life. Let me tell you that I almost lost my religion trying to teach school this morning.

There was much rolling of the eyes, and huffing, and yelling of "where is that book I was supposed to read?"...oh yeah, and always trying to get in the last word.

And that was just me, I won't even go into what the kids were doing.

All is well now though...its amazing what an afternoon biscuit with home-made apple butter can do for a girl...

Now, I must update the Christmas card list. Which I had scheduled to do in July. But you know, why do something in the summer that you can put of for the busiest time of the year?

Life's more exciting that way!

Happy Monday!

An Open Letter To My Sweet Readers

Dear La Vida Dulce Gals, (and turtle-lover, Imnotned),

I'm certain that above all readers in the blog-world, you are the best.

Thank you for speaking up and making some sweet noise here on the old blog.

It did this LVCG heart good.

I cannot tell you how much I love blogging. It brings the world of writing and friendship into one little space on the net...its a small part of my life that carries a big piece of my heart.

I do have a confession to make, one that most the bloggers reading this page will already know:

I'm not always on the generous end when it comes to comments.

Shocking, I know.

Mostly its my desire to say something meaningful, funny, timely, or (most importantly) original. I think words are important...be it Twitter, Facebook, blogging, or in person. They can build up or tear down.

I've wielded the power of words both ways...often unintentionally. The written word (especially in comments or emails) can be tricky. I am often reminded of the song, "Be careful little mouth what you speak...."

So, at the risk of sounding needy and comment hungry, I wanted to silence the crickets last week because I enjoy hearing from you. I could have checked my Sitemeter to see what the numbers are, but y'all, at La Vida Dulce, you are more than a number.

Thank you for hearing...and responding!

It meant so very much.

Your bloggy-friend,

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Sunday Encouragement

I don't usually post on weekends (and I do want to address Friday's post tomorrow...you all are the best!)

However, my friend Charity, over at Considering It All Joy, has posted the most beautiful post at her sight this weekend.

If you are walking a rough and difficult road...

If you are in need of some perspective...

If you are asking "why"...

If you want to know Who to cling to when life feels fragile and unfair...

Go read What It's Like... you won't be sorry.

Friday, November 06, 2009

My Name is Kellie...and I'm a CoDependent Blogger?

Friday.

Its been a busy week.

I have a lot of nothing to write about today.

Oh wait! Here's something...

A couple nights ago The Mister reads my blog and says: Nice posts this week.

 I say: Thanks, but I cannot figure out where my commenters are...it's like crickets out there.

He says: Maybe everybody is busy.

I say: (in my best Eyeor voice) Maybe no one reads my blog.

He went back and looked at my blog.

He says: Kellie you have at least 7 comments on the last few days...that's not "nobody".

I say: Yeah, well last week I had nearly 18 per day.

He says: Honey, don't be a codependent blogger.

I say: OUCH!

And then we laughed. But it got me to thinking...

...about that scene in Soapdish (have you seen it?) when Celeste (an aging soap opera star) and her agent set up a "sighting" in the mall so Celeste can give her ego a boost.

Not that I'm like that or anything...I'm just telling you what I was thinking.

Anyway, go ahead, comment. Tell me something funny. Tell me something random. Tell me something about yourself. Tell me your a codependent blogger too. Tell me that you are an enabler. Tell me that you don't like comments. Tell me that you love comments but you hate the mall....Just tell me.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Freuly Friends





It's been awhile (like nearly two years!) since I have shared some of Kellie's Second Grade Stories.

If you missed the first one, click here.

The year? 1978.

With out further adieu, I give you: A Friend Is Someone Who....


(You can click the picture to see the detail.)

Translation:
A friend is someone who...
is nice.
A friend is someone who...
is warm.
A friend is someone who...
(Watches) the same show.
A friend is someone who...
is (friendly).

Obviously, I really haven't changed much since second grade. I still think a friend is all these things...and so much more. (As a side note, all my current friends have arms. But I'd love them just the same if they were armless.) Who needs arms when there are flowers to draw?

I still like to write. I still love brightly colored pictures of happy people on sunny days.

Oh and also, this was the year I decided to spell my name differently than how my  mother spells it (to this day I still sometimes get cards to Kelli--and it makes me smile.) But I had strong opinions from an early age and Kellie with one "I" simply wouldn't do.

Apparently on the day this was written I was trying on a "Y" for size...it didn't stick.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Just in Case

Several years ago I had some dental work done that required a small surgical procedure.

Upon leaving the doctors office I was prescribed pain killers.

I never used them.

And... I never threw them away.

I reasoned that I should keep them.

Just in case.

The expiration on that bottle is 2003, which means it was prescribed sometime in 2002. I'm pretty sure that the potency of those pills is long gone.

But still...just in case.

I wish this was the only thing I hold onto... you know ... just in case.

Like the closet full of clothes I don't wear anymore.

Or the scraps of material from projects of old.

Or fear.

Or worry.

Or bitterness...

...just in case.

I've been thinking about freedom....about living life really free.

I've been reading some good books, by good authors who have experienced life.

Pleasure, and pain.

Women like Maya Angleou, Anne Graham Lotz, and the story of Mary and Martha.

And you know what?

They didn't rely on the things of this world to ease a heart that cries for the Eternal.

No...

I flushed those little white pills, and threw out the old orange bottle.

I don't want to be tied to anything that brings the empty promises of ...

Just in case.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Detox


For those of you who didn't know, the La Vida House was on "vacation" last week.

How can nine days go so quickly?

I've want to write on a handful of topics today but the truth is I'm in "vacation detox".

What is vacation detox?

Well, its about tough love and hard work.

Its letting go of the care-free minutes of unplanned days and setting the face to flint.

Its reminding oneself of the luxury of nine days of togetherness with The Mister, and the ablility to shed the school teacher hat for a week.

Its about the reality of a weeks worth of laundry and housekeeping gone undone. Its about not knowing if the refrigerator has (edible) food in it, and making a list for the store.

Its about motivating children to be early, eager, and educated. Hopefully in that order.

Its about getting out the calendar and trying to make sure that the schedule isn't too full.

Its about getting a grasp on reality and creatively channelling chaos to look more like peace.

Detox.

It ain't for sissies.

The good news?

There is always coffee.



(This is a picture of me with the only cup of coffee I could find at the zoo. More pics to come!)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Fall Time Fun

There are many things I love about living in a place with four distinctive seasons.

But one of my favorite activities of the fall-time is to take my kids trick-or-treating.

Growing up my Dad would take us out on Halloween and my Mom would stay at home and pass out candy. She still enjoys being prepared for the passing out of candy.

Since I grew up in the desert, there were only a handful of times that I had to worry about being cold.

I'll never forget that year back in the late 80's when my youngest brother was a California Raisen for Halloween. His costume was a brownish-black garbage bag, some white gloves, and a pair of dark sunglasses. It was awesome!


My Dad, being an artist and quite creative, could whip up awesome costumes with things we had on hand in the house.

All that to say, The Raisin looked great, but by the end of the night he was so warm under all that plastic he was glad to take it off.

I was reminded of this two years ago when we were stationed in Almost Mexico (a phrase stolen from Stephanie J!). I took the kids out to trick-or-treat while wearing shorts and a t-shirt.

You can imagine the contrast when I experienced my first Halloween here in North Carolina. I walked in a neighborhood with real leaves crunching under my feet, the chill air blowing gently on my face. The kids were in costumes on top of many layers of clothing. But what surprised me most of all was the smell of fall in the air.

I was shocked that the air actually smelled of fall-time. I love that....

Seriously, its like the books I read when I was young...only I get to walk within the pages. Amazing.

What is you favorite part of the fall season. If fall is not your thing: what was your favorite costume as a kid?

Happy Friday!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Supervising

I haven't had the chance to write this morning because my life is so very, very difficult.

First, Clinton the Embroidery Machine and I have been working on a secret project that cannot be revealed.

Of course it will be revealed in its time, because really? What do I ever make that I don't share with y'all?

Do you remember last year when I made this (go a ahead and click over there...its short, I'll wait)......

.....Well, seems my "spelling issues" are not confined to fiber art of the felt kind.

Clinton the Embroidery Machine does everything for me. Well, everything except check my spelling.

I am still riding the learning curve on this wonder-machine, but seam ripping of embroidery letters is not the same as seam ripping a hem, I'm just saying.

Second (ly?), I'm very busy today supervising my Fix-It Man. Its a difficult job but I am glad to do it. I have to keep my eye on him because he's so dang cute in his Clint Eastwood shirt.



In fact, he is so easy on my eyes that I have a long list of things that need to be "fixed" around here-- insuring his sticking around awhile. Well, at least until next Monday when he has to go back to his day job. 


I am going to be so sad on Monday...but that's four days from now, so lets not talk about it...

am looking forward to tonight. I was going to watch my DVR'd Glee, but apparently some baseball game was on instead? Go figure.

Instead, the Fix-It Man (and the kids) have requested I make Alton Brown's Pound Cake for dessert tonight so I guess I'll do that, and catch up on a weeks worth of blog reading. Which is a lot like getting to go over to friends house for a quick visit...looking forward to that!

Happy Thursday!