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.      
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:


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.


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.


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.!

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?


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 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 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 can tell her I sent you.

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

Happy Thursday!