Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Goodbye November

And like that {snap} Thanksgiving is over.

In my minds eye, I am clinging, scrambling, holding on with all my might, to the edge of this 29th day of November. Hoping that if I just hold tight enough to this day (and the next), the month won't flip over quite as easily... but it will and that's OK. I just that I do love November so.

I've spent the last several weeks enjoying my morning coffee on the front steps. It amaZes me that in  just 15 days the view went from this:

...to this:

Now I find myself going out of the way to find things to feast my eyes upon... things to remind me the season of winter will be short... but that is for another post. Perhaps tomorrow...

We had a lovely Thanksgiving. Sharing the day with family and friends. It went too quickly, but I am grateful for it all the same.

The Mister had the holiday (and all this week) off from work, so we have lots of walking and hiking.

We couldn't believe that it was warm enough to be outside to be in short sleeves and without shoes.
The kids spent thirty minutes catching crawdads...

... while The Mister and I rested and talked about how quickly these kids have grown. 

Actually, I think The Mister was just grateful to be able to sit for a minute. He had spent most of the weekend putting up Christmas lights on the house. He did a fantastic job too.

The same night we put up all the lights the sky turned our little acre into a pinkish wonderland. I looked to the sky and the sunset was amazing.
Not something we see every day in the Piney Woods.

These are the reasons I'm sad to see November go.

But I'm also sad because it means I've run out of time to prepare...

This coming Saturday I volunteered to be part of a Celebration of Women Artists at our church. Which is a fancy way of saying I'm selling my stuff in a very nice craft show. I have spent the last several days sewing and hooking like C-R-A-Z-Y. The more I make, the closer I get to the big day, the more I panic a little bit... people are going to realize that I'm not an artist.

Hopefully I can cover my insecurities with crocheted flowers.

That is a small glimpse of the last week of November in the Little Yellow House in the Woods.

I hope December doesn't go so fast...

Monday, November 21, 2011

Gratitude in a Change of Plans

I'm finished. And yet, the week has just begun!

I have everything I need to make dinner on Thursday and I do not plan to be in (or anywhere near!)  a grocery store or shopping center until next Monday.

Do you think I can do it?

We are also celebrating a birthday this week. The Mister is turning another year older (and more good looking) and I am planning a birthday feast for Wednesday. To say we are going to eat well this week is an understatement.

To my great surprise, our Thanksgiving plans changed quickly this weekend, and we will have the privilege to share Thanksgiving with long-time friends. 

Providence has gathered a group of us, all from Arizona, but living (and visiting) in North Carolina. It all came together in a 12-hour flurry of emails and texts, and I amazed that a party of nine will sit at a table in the Little Yellow House on the Hill. 

I couldn't have planned this in advanced if I had tried.  I just feel thankful to have received an invitation.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Guest Post: Danger at the Wheel

Dear friends and readers,

My son, The Boy (as he's known here on the blog) was given the assignment to write a persuasive editorial on an issue he feels passionate. Honestly, I was surprised to see the topic he had chosen: Texting While Driving.  After turning in his assignment to his writing teacher at our homeschooling co-op, I asked if he would let me post his work here. I think it is particularly important information for those of us that may be tempted to pick up the phone to text or read texts (or otherwise be distracted) while operating a vehicle. Myself included. 

With love,

Texting: Danger at the Wheel
Texting while driving is dangerous and can be deadly. You may think that looking down to read or reply to a text is not a big deal, but it is. Statistics show that in just five-seconds of distraction allows a driver to travel the distance of 100 yards, which is the length of a football field. In this time any driver could be hit, rear ended or hit someone else. It’s like driving with your eyes closed. Can you imagine getting in your car, putting on a blind fold and expecting to arrive at your destination safely? 

According to a study by Virginia Tech University on driving distractions and cell phone use, a person texting while driving is twenty-three times more likely to crash or be hit than someone who is not using a cell phone. This is disturbing when statistics show that 50% of drivers between the ages of 18-24 acknowledge that they text and drive. As a matter of fact, in 2009 drivers under the age of 20 were the most distracted drivers, taking the lives of 5,474 people.

While these facts show that texting while driving is dangerous and deadly, above all its against the law. In June 2009, the legislative office of North Carolina signed a ban on texting while driving, making it illegal with the consequence of a $100 (plus court fees) fine. If you are a minor the fee is only $35. Law enforcers are not allowed to confiscate your phone, although personally, I think phones should be taken because it could make a stronger impact for the person texting. 

In 2008 nearly 6000 people died while texting at the wheel. This is a potentially deadly distraction that endangers not only the drivers life but lives of others too. As you can see, texting while driving puts precious lives on the line and could be solved by individuals believing the risks and putting the phone away while driving. 


Monday, November 14, 2011

Essential Post

This time of the year always zips by so quickly.

Its going so fast that at the end of each day I find myself with a long list of things that I wanted to do, but didn't get done. All "non-essential things" gets passed to the day ahead. Unfortunately, not all things are unessential, just more easily passed onto another day... blogging is one of those things.

Last weekend was a great one... the perfect blend of activity and rest.

Early Friday The Mister and The Boy took off for a long weekend of backpacking through the Great Smoky Mountains with some friends. The Girl and I took off for a day of shopping. After lunch and shopping we came home to get ready for a slumber party with our BritishBFF's, including (although not pictured) the mums.
We started the evening in matching pj's (moms excluded... we were happy to chat whilst the girls giggled and played) and cuddled up to watch the Sound of Music.

I'm quite certain that nobody was more excited about this slumber party than our youngest slumberer, who (I am delighted to say) can sing beautifully to every song in the musical right down to the last do-re-mi. However, right before we had tucked ourselves under blankets for a nights rest, she asked to sing me a song in Swahili (her dad recently came home from a missions trip in Africa.)

You may remember that there is nothing that moves me to tears quicker than a child singing. But a child singing God's praises in a forgein language? Water-works. Although I did my best to hold it in.  Best bedtime prayer ever.

After our guests left The Girl and  I tidied up a bit and had ourselves a movie day. I'm proud to tell you that from noon until nearly 11p., we watched five movies. Right in a row. And we crafted and crocheted and it was wonderful.

I managed to finish up the blue baby sweater.

Then I tried my hand at another baby sweater in some leftover yarn I had in my office.

It came out teeny-tiny... not quite preemie size, but definitely for a small newborn, the likes of which I have never seen (seeing as my babies were only slight less than 9-10 pounds at birth.)

While The Girl and I shopped on Friday I found some beautiful cotton yarn (on sale!) in a beautiful orange-burgundy and gold.  I didn't have a clue as to what I could make (especially since fall is almost over) but that yarn called to me like a long lost child waiting to come home.

So I bought it and made this:
Here's the back.
And a close up of the details:

Why am I making all these baby products?

Honestly, I don't know.

Maybe its because I can get them done in the length of one movie. Maybe I can't resist an end that is so adorable. Maybe its because there is a baby out there who needs something soft and cozy... who knows. But at some point I will know who needs/wants these things and it will make me happy to think that a little one wears something I enjoyed making.

Until then, I've already another project on the hook, but today its on the "non-essential" list... so you know what that means.

Happy Tuesday!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Kellie's Kuerig (2009 - 2011)

After a six-month battle with half-brewed K-Kups and chronic warnings to DE-SCALE, Kellie's Kuerig (or KiKi as she was often called) has died.

Kellie remembers with fondness that cool morning in October, when her parents sent her this wonderful one-cup elixir machine for her 37th birthday.

KiKi was a fine coffee maker and often brewed Kellie's favorite afternoon pick-me-up. She almost always worked with great efficiency and speed. Many Kuerig owners complained about the noisy sputter and loud thunking their makers made, but KiKi was always quiet and gentle.

Kellie, who took great care of KiKi by DE-SCALEing several times a year (using many gallons of vinegar, as noted in the user manual,) is very sad at this passing and is consoling herself with the knowledge that she always treated KiKi with the utmost of care. She even carefully took a paper clip to clean out the very sharp and dangerous exit needle, a job that is necessary, if not slightly dangerous.

These loving efforts did prolong KiKi's life, but towards the end she would often brew a full cup only if Kellie stood next to the counter speaking kind words like: "You can do it!" or "Just one more cup" and also, regretfully, out of pure caffeine withdrawal, "For $20 I'd replace you for a Mr. Coffee."

As a last cry for help  ditch effort, Kellie did consider contacting the Kuerig company to inquire about a replacement, since two-years seems like a short life span on such an expensive machine. But, alas, an extensive Google search found that the manufacturers would not be supportive if past the 1-year warranty, being even less sympathetic if you did not register your product upon purchase.

Kiki was unregistered.

She will be greatly missed, but will be donated to the La Vida science class for research on her parts and motors.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Five Photo Friday

  • She has always wanted to take pictures at one of these booths at the mall. Imagine her surprise when I found an app for that!

  • If you like Nutella, or rich chocolate cookies, go make a batch of these P-R-O-N-T-O. All you need is an egg, 1-1/4 cups cake flour, 2 tbls butter, 1.5 tsp baking powder, and  3/4 cup Nutella. My only complaint is that the batch makes only 18 16 cookies... we were all eating cookie dough... The recipe says to cut the cookies in half and spread Nutella between them. For the sake of being true to the recipe, I tried it (pictured in the upper left of the photo.) Honestly, I liked them better plain, with a cup of coffee. They are as rich as Daddy Warbucks, but Oh! very good!
  • Two weeks ago today was my birthday... and I'm still talking about it. I wanted to show you the paper clip necklace my friend made for me. She said she wanted to make something for me since I l-o-v-e  homemade gifts. I thought it was great! And I wore it all day. Its now in my office so I can think of her every time I see it! (she also gave me a Starbucks card!)

  • The Boy needed to find some string to do a science project. He ran to my office to get some left over para-cord from a project we did last month (see his right wrist). Somehow the two pieces were stuck together with some microscopic thread  by his amazing teenage magic skillz. 
  • This was the view of my back yard on Wednesday morning. I wish I could have captured the golden hue that hung in the air. I am so grateful that I was in the yard at that moment because next day a wind came through an blew most of those leaves off the trees. 
Happy Friday!

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Grumpy Gratitude Giver

I'm trying to hide it, but I'm in a bad mood.

Honestly, its not that bad (unless you ask my children) but I must confess the normally joyful heart that beats in my chest is feeling a little...  pensive.

I blame it on being grateful.

It is in this season when most in America begin to give thanks and, of course, its a good thing.

Honestly, if you've read this blog for any length of time you'll know I do my best to intentionally cultivate a heart of gratitude. Perhaps for me it is easy, I don't have much to grumble about, but in a weak moment I'll go searching for something.

I find it ironic that when all the world is giving thanks, I'm seeking-out reasons to grumble.

For instance yesterday morning, I could not decide what to wear. I tried on the clothes from my closet over and over. I was desperately looking for the elusive outfit that is supposed to make me feel different.  What is it that makes the outfit I wore last week, not enough this? Am I looking to be taller, thinner, cuter, wiser, friendlier, happier? I don't fully know, because it so often changes.

I'll tell you what I do know: I was flailing about in a closet brimming with clothes. Its a wardrobe that is clean and attractive, and in one grumpy moment, I decided it wasn't enough.

I stood at a proverbial fork-in-the-road. I was caught in a moment when I had the privilege to choose.

Unfortunately, the choice I made was the road most traveled, and it certainly makes a difference.

The self-focused road is a trap made to look like a savior.

I wish I could tell you it is just about my body and clothes. But it isn't. I often find complaint (even if unspoken) over the food in my cupboard. The children I raise. The man I am married to. The job that I have. The gifts I've been given. The talents I possess. The time that I need....just to name a few.

They are small non-issues in life; made bigger when the focus is me.

So today I give thanks for...

... second chances to walk a less traveled road.

... Truth in hard-hearted places (even when its uncomfortable)

... opportunities to turn this grumpy, greedy, gone-hiding heart, back to gratitude.

(Already I feel so much better.)

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Peanut Butter Crises 2011

I should have listened to my husband.

His hero is George Washington Carver, the inventor of peanut butter. My man LOVES his peanut butter. And after 18 years of being together, I will admit, I'm a peanut eater too.

Years ago, when I was getting my garden cleaned and closed up for a winters rest, the Mister said I should plant peanuts because they would not only yield a crop of nutty deliciousness, but Mr. Carver had proved that peanut plants help the soil for future harvests.

I chuckled at his practical ways.

What he said was true. But it is also true that he and I eat a LOT of peanut butter.  I could grow the peanuts, but when it came to mashing them up and putting them in a jar, I wasn't so keen. After all, why grow them myself when "I can buy organic peanut butter at the Buy-in-Bulk Warehouse for practically nothin' ?"

Of course now I am eating my words. Without nutty goodness.

I had heard talk around the blogosphere about a peanut shortage, but I didn't believe it.

I guess I was in denial.

The rumors are correct.  Don't panic, but, there's a peanut shortage.

Right before I went to bed last night I read this article. I tried to break the news gently to The Mister.

"The price of peanut butter is going up 40%. I hope you like almond butter."

I thought he took the news pretty well until I received a phone call this morning at 9:00a. He had called to see if I had gone to the store yet to start a peanut butter stockpile .

We may need an intervention.

I, for one, plan to do my part in this crises.

For instance, this morning for breakfast I toasted a slice of Whole-Wheat Pumpkin yeast bread with peanut butter and half-a banana, but I only used one-tablespoon of peanut butter instead of two. And this afternoon, instead of making peanut-butter cookies I am going to make Nutella Sandwich Cookies.

It's all going to be OK. But I think I will run stop-by to the store today for a jar or eight two... and maybe next year I'll try my hand at peanut farming.

Happy Tuesday!