Thursday, January 26, 2012

Starbucks Writer

The Boy and I are having our weekly Starbucks School afternoon while The Girl counts her cookies at Girl Scouts.

Speaking of cookies, we are up to our eyeballs in them, and although it is fun and exciting, it is also a lot of work. I will be glad to be finished. I don't know how our wonderful cookie moms do it all... I would be completely overwhelmed.

Speaking of overwhelmed... I decided that social media was killing my ability to think, read, clean, pray, create and interact with those who I live life with on a daily basis. I still check-in from time to time (cos i still really love being in contact with all my friends!) but I'm trying to let (Facebook and Pinterest in particular) work for me, instead of me for it.

I can see the difference already. Since the first of the year I have read (and FINISHED!) four books. I haven't read four books in one month since Twitter and Facebook and all the medias in between became my every day "read". I am hoping that soon my brain will start thinking deeply again, and I will be able to write again. I've missed it.

I have worked on a few little crochet projects lately:
This is the start of another afghan.. it makes me so happy to be making Dahila's in the middle of winter ( although this winter has not been a true winter!).

Ok, gotta run... but I HAVE to show you this...

I don't know what this tree is, but it has the MOST beautiful pink blossoms on them. It makes my heart very happy... spring is nearly here!


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Musings on a Winter Day

Yesterday was such a dreary day that I heeded the advice my mama taught me: if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. So I kept myself from social networking of the internet kind.

It actually started on Sunday afternoon. A cold wind blew into town with a thick and heavy fog and a promise to stay.

Honestly, one of my biggest pet peeves is a whiner, especially an adult whiner, and the absolute worst is when that whiner is me. So I decided to keep from splashing my dissatisfaction (over something as silly as weather) to myself. --Although if you ask The Mister, he will tell you my day wasn't completely weather whine-free.

Instead, before waking the kiddos from slumber, I lit a candle, ate my breakfast, and did a little reading. It helped straighten up an entitled attitude. The fresh coffee helped too.

I am such a sunshine girl.

And warmth... I'm a heat and warm weather kind of girl.

Of course, what did I do with the rest of my day?

I went ice skating.

The Boy had some friends that were all meeting to ice skate, so with the promise of finishing his assignments, we headed to the ice rink in the early afternoon. I hadn't been skating in nearly two decades; the kids had never been. They both did great. I did pretty good for a near 40 year old homemaker who hasn't worn skates since the 80's.

I fell for the first time, ever. Today I cannot tell if the left side of my body is sore from yesterdays workout or that lovely (and ever so graceful) crash meeting I had with the ice while all the smart parents (who sat in the grandstands) watched.

However, it was good exercise for the kids and The Boy enjoyed hanging out with friends on a Monday. My favorite part was the opportunity to spend a couple hours holding my Girl's delicate hand. She was like a new fawn, all lanky arms and legs, on ice skates trying to figure it out... cute as can be.

Today the weather man said there would be sunshine by noon, and I will enjoy it because more cold and wet weather is on its way.

I'm not worried.

I've got lots of candles...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Random Gratitude

"friends" by The Girl
For the creative people with whom I share this life...

For the rain tapping the window while I try to fall to sleep...

For wool yarn slipping through my fingers...
For antihistamines to help with wool allergy...

For strong words pondered, that  reflect True love:  

"Someday God's wrath will come to judge all the injustices of today.
Our mess will be rectified." - D. Bowen

For the imperfect beauty of a scrappy quilt... and able hands to make it.

For noisy geese that fly over the piney woods each morning, and then come honking home each night...

...For all these things I am thankful.

Happy Wednesday!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Giveaway: My Memories Software

*Update* Sandra, I just did my random drawing and your number is the winner! Thanks for playing!

Right before Christmas I received an email from a representative of My Memories Digital Scrapbook Software.

I've done traditional scrapbooking, and had seen digital editions by some really talented bloggers and friends, but had resisted the urge to dive into yet another crafting endeavor in which I would need to buy a whole new set of supplies, digital or material!

My Memories was willing to let me download their latest software, and offered another to giveaway.

My hope was that I would be able to make our Christmas card this year, but the learning curve proved to be a little more involved than I had originally estimated! There truly is an art to digital work, and I needed a bit more time to learn the software. I'm looking forward to learning how to efficiently use this software in the coming year.

With that said, I did spend several hours playing, and I was impressed with the amount of artwork that was included. There are a lot of digital decorations and papers included in the software, as well as a large selection of free digital papers to access from the My Memories website.

If you would like to be entered in the giveaway to receive a downloadable copy of the My Memories software all you have to do is visit their site, look around, and come back and tell me what what your favorite digital pack or layout is in the comments section.

You do not have to have a blog to win, but you do need a valid email address! And unlike other giveaways on this blog (when I had to mail something to you!) this one I can include those living outside of the USA!

For extra entries, follow the My Memories blog, Twitter, or Facebook page and then add another comment(s) here letting me know to add your extra entries to the list.

I will pick a random number using the random number generator on Monday, January 16, 2012.

Good Luck!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Bullet Posting

  • Not much time today. Gotta be quick!
  • Lately this has been my favorite spot in the house. And yes, that is a fire burning above my fireplace. Check it out on Netflix, its a movie called Fireplace for the Home. It has crackling fire sounds and everything but heat. I love it (since our fireplace has issues).

  •  I've spent most of this week preparing things for school so I haven't had much time for crafting, but I did manage to crank out a pair of fingerless gloves while watching the first episode of the second season of  Downton Abbey on Monday night.
  •  These are three crafting books The Mister gave to me at Christmas. I have flipped through them each and looked at all the pictures,which inspired the owls pictured above, but I haven't had proper time to dig complete in... I plan to remedy that this weekend.
  •  Last , but certainly not least, I had a moment of weariness toward the beginning of the week. Nothing major, just the briefest of moments when I felt overwhelmed (and inclined to panic) with how I am going to accomplish all the things that are set before me... and do them well. Soon after, I read the following quote. I hope it encourages you as much as it encourages me.
With Christ beside us, we cannot be conquered or cowed -
never forget that the power of God working
through a faithful servant
is a mighty thing.

-Turning Points Devotional, June 2011, Day 13

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, January 09, 2012

Tortilla Legacy

I have spent the last 18 years trying, without success, to make a flour tortilla.

I have high expectations because the minute I get out the flour  my mind wanders to  an afternoon nearly thirty years ago when I sat on a tall chair in my godmother's kitchen and watched her and her sisters make stacks of tortillas.

Three sisters. Talking and working.  Laughing and cooking. My memory as clear as the day.

Without need of measuring, they mixed flour, salt, (quite possibly) lard, and boiling water.. with bare hands. Heat wasn't a bother.  Once the dough was all mixed they placed large portions into the palm of one hand and by making a fist, squeezed out a perfectly sized ball through the circle made between the thumb and the finger. No gadgets, or worry.

They had heavy wooden rolling pins, without handles or fancy, and would roll out the thinnest tortillas without hole or misshape.

It may be the glorifying imaginations of a young and tender mind,  but I am certain each tortilla was perfectly round and nearly all the same size.

I remember the black, cast iron griddle, hot beyond reason, and yet they would flip the tortillas using only their fingers. And when the tortilla was done, it was quickly placed between the folded ends of a dishtowel to keep them soft and warm.

It goes without saying... these tortillas were good. Not like anything you buy in the store.

 A vivid memory of a warm day,  doors wide open, the sound of wind chimes on the breeze; tradition shared between women, and a little brown-headed girl sitting at the counter watching their every move... dreaming of the day she'd make tortillas too.

 I have spent nearly two decades trying to make tortillas like them.

This morning I found a recipe for whole wheat tortillas (sacrilegeI know).  I was stumped because the recipe called for avocado oil.  I have tried many different recipes, but using oil was something I'd never seen. I figured it would taste wheat-y and weird.

They didn't. They cooked up amazingly delicious.  I burned my fingers three times... but, oh! it was worth it.

I was so impressed that when I was done, I just had to know.. What would these taste like with white flour and regular oil. Would they come close to the standard that lives in my heart?

So I threw caution to the wind (and my current non-processed food plan) and whipped up a batch. My own brown headed kids anxiously waiting.

They aren't round. They aren't pretty. I had to use the knife to get them evenly portioned... but they tasted very much like a sweet memory of this brown-headed girl.

Tortilla's (as modified from wheat recipe above)

2.5 cups of flour

3 Tbls oil (I used Canola)

1 tsp salt

1 1/4 cup boiling water

Mix flour, salt, and oil in mixer until crumbly. Add hot water slowly. When dough holds to itself, it done. It will be very moist, but not wet. Shape into log. Cut into twelve pieces and cover. let rest for 15-30 minutes. Roll out and place on a very hot griddle until bubbly, flip and cook for about a minute more (don't overcook or they will be too crisp). Place in between two kitchen towels while cooking the rest.


Thursday, January 05, 2012

New Beginnings

I served toast with butter and hard boiled eggs for breakfast.

On the outward appearance, its just breakfast, but my thoughts were elsewhere.

Eggs have long been a symbol of new beginnings. 

Last night the four of us sat around the table after dinner, all a bit tired. We played a new board game that confounded us all and we fussed at each other in frustration. Each of us (present company included) let our attitudes color our vision, and said things that weren't as kind as they could have been. Apologies were made and forgiveness declared, but the wounds of sharp words aren't so quickly healed. We all went to bed feeling "weird".

Before sleep came to stay, The Girl tip-toed to me with a sad look in her eye and said she couldn't stop feeling sorry. I hugged her and told her to tuck herself back in the bed, to remember that God loves us more than we can imagine, even when we aren't at our best.  Tomorrow, I told her, she would wake up knowing that "God's mercies are new every morning."

What I told her is true. I know this not because I am wise enough to see it, or good enough to receive it, or rich enough to buy it, but because God's love is lavish; His grace, generous; His mercy, more than I can imagine.

How do I know His mercies are new?

Early today, when the kids came with energy and laughter downstairs for their breakfast I looked up at their faces, and then down at those eggs and felt grateful for the gentle reminder...

I need new beginnings too.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Books and Resolutions

The two questions I have been asked several times in as many weeks are: What books are you reading?  Have you made any resolutions?

Right now I am reading as if I hadn't ever seen a book before. I find myself reading in the bathroom while I am drying my hair or brushing my teeth, when I have down time between subjects in the school day, and sometimes when I should be doing something else... like sleeping or folding laundry.

I always like to read fluff during Christmas break (and always, really) and this year I am nearly finished with a billion reasons why, by Kristin Billerbeck.

My mom sent Killing Lincoln by Bill O'Rielly to my husband...and I stole it. What makes this book of history so interesting to me is that I live (and have been!) to many of the places this history happened.

I asked for the Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller for Christmas. I'm only three chapters in, but it is good. Really good.

For a devotional I have been using the Puritan Paperback (easy reader version) of Communion with God which is John Owen's work worded in layman's terms. I could sum up this book in two syllables: Mea-ty. Honestly I have been working through this book for the last nine months. It's not a quick read, but worth the time.

On my Kindle App, I have been reading Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser, and In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. You may remember these journalists from a documentary that came out a year or two ago called Food Inc.

That documentary prompted last years resolution, or goal as I am wont to call them, to go back to an old habit I had when my kids were younger (and the wallet leaner): intentional meal planning and preparing, in particular, dinner planning.

The story of how I went from healthful eating to not-so-much-healthful-eating is a long story better saved for another day, but let's just say the Queen of Twig Eating, Kale Juicing, and Veggie Pushing, found the likes of PopTarts and chicken nuggets as a mainstay in her cupboard. And what's worse? Grew to like them.

Processed foods become so easy to grab when the cook is tired and busy. (Not to mention, not as young as she used to be!)

Currently, meal planning and preparing aren't as much about budgeted-living as it was back-in-the-day. Today it's about time-management, with the added benefit of keeping money in the pocket. My life is different with a full-time job as educator. I no longer have the convenience of home-making full time, it must be balanced with my other full time jobs as mom and teacher.

With last years goal in mind I was able to make great strides in dinner prep and healthful cooking and it feels great to be back on track... but I could step it up a notch in keeping the non-processed foods out of my fridge and pantry, and being intentional not just about dinner, but breakfast and lunch as well. So that is the major goal I have set for the following year.

If this is something you are interested in there is a great blog that I am sure is going to help me in this years goal: 100 Days of Real Food. There are lots of great recipes for ALL meals.

I am also reading several new crafting books, but I think I will post on that tomorrow.

Happy Wednesday and Happy New Year!