Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Dinner dilemma

If you go to church with me, you are sworn to "tight-lipped-ness." This story must never be repeated in casual conversation.

For some reason, I'm the person in charge of all the behind the scene details for Vacation Bible School this year... things like the meals for the visiting team that is doing all the real work of VBS.

I pondered carefully who would be willing to provide a complete meal for 5 adults and 2 small children. I practiced my speech over and over in my mind. Three women. That's all I needed, three women.

The first lady volunteered right away. "I'll bring the meal on Tuesday. How many people?" Whew. Day 1 covered.

Some fine tuning of the speech and I called #2. "Oh sure," she said " I can do Thursday. How many people?" Five minutes later, she called back. "This is my menu... meatloaf, scalloped corn, roasted potatoes, homemade crescent rolls, and pecan pie." Wow. It sounded fabulous.

By this time the speech almost sounded natural, so I dialed #3. "Which day? Wednesday? Oh... yeah, I can do that." Yesssss! I had the meals covered. One more detail to cross off my list.

Tuesday's cook arrived with cheeks rosy from the oven heat. She loaded the table with potatoes, corn on the cob, MEATLOAF, and a fruit dessert. I spent Tuesday afternoon wondering, should I call the Thursday cook and give her a heads-up? but decided to let it go.

Wednesday's cook arrived with the same rosy cheeks, her arms loaded with hot biscuits, cheesy rice, a veggie, dessert, and MEATLOAF. Ok, now I have to warn the Thursday cook.

I dialed the number, dreading the conversation. But she's a cheery person and my message only stopped her for about 2.5 seconds. Then she said, "Oh, my meatloaf is different."

So tomorrow, Thursday, this team of hardworking, give-from-the-toes, never-breathe-a-word-of-complaint missionaries, will have their third meal of MEATLOAF with assorted sides.

There is a bright spot here. I may be fired.

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. I Timothy 6:6-8

Monday, July 28, 2008

First day of school

It was Barbie's Big Adventure... my senior year of high school, the year you don't have to prove anything to anyone, because, well... you're a senior! You know it all!

But this was more than just high school. I was on my own. Sort of. I had talked my parents into letting me finish high school at a christian school 60 miles away from home. Arrangements were made for me to live with one of the school families (friends of my parents) for the year. Labor Day weekend, I arrived at their home loaded with suitcases, school supplies and high expectations.

In the move, I gained another little sister and brother and they were the only people that I knew at the school. The first day of school held both anticipation and fear - would I find a friend? would I fit in? will I be glad I made the move?

Tuesday after Labor day dawned bright and HOT. I came out of my bedroom wearing my carefully chosen outfit, to have some breakfast and wait for the bus. Mrs. T., the mom of the house, greeted me happily, teased me about being nervous and then handed me my lunch box.

just found this in an antique store
Yep! You read it right. My lunch box. It was red plaid... metal... the kind second graders love to pop open at lunch time to see what mouthwatering delights mom packed today.

I objected. (Nicely, of course. My mother would expect me to be respectful.) Mrs. T. was firm - the lunch box is for you and you will take it to school.

I suggested a lunch bag. She didn't have lunch bags.

I offered to use a grocery bag, any bag! Nope. The lunch box was my ticket out of the house.

In the end, I relented. There was no other way to end the standoff and maintain peace. Just as someone announced the arrival of the bus, I realized there was still a way out of this humiliating introduction to my new classmates. I flew to my bedroom, grabbed my long dress coat, and threw it over my armload of books and lunch box. It was 80+ degrees, but carrying my coat sure beat carrying a red plaid lunch box!

And this was just the first day of my Big Adventure.

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:5,6

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A case for laptops

I did some e-shopping last night searching for everything available in laptop cases. It was a learning experience. I discovered that the really nice bags have computer sleeves - a padded case within the case. And, depending on the price you pay, they are loaded with all types of pockets, snaps, zippers and straps. I have a standing order for a laptop case, so I took a few notes on what seemed most important.

I spent today trying to turn my notes into a usuable product. This computer sleeve is the first step in the adventure. Add a strap and a closure of some kind, and it's on to the outer bag!

nearly complete laptop sleeve
Sure hope the recipient of this case has her heart set on sleeves... and straps... and pockets!

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven... a time to rend, and a time to sew... Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Lima beans and the Red Ball

When I was very young, I hated lima beans. One particular time that my mother served them, I just couldn't gag them down, so she told me to sit at the table until they were gone.

me in my non-lima-eating years

Since becoming an adult, I have heard many tales, told by former children and their laughing parents, about feeding unwanted food to dogs, stuffing the distasteful item in nearby drawers, forming circles of food under wide rims of dinner plates... the naughty (but amusing) creativity is endless!

But wait - I interrupted myself... There I was, alone in a dimly lit kitchen, watching the rest of my family having a great time together in the living room. So... how did I solve the problem? I ate the lima beans. One by one, between sobs, I choked them down until my plate was clean.

As an adult I have listened to these funny tales of childish ingenuity and wondered, Why did I eat the dumb beans? Why didn't I just get rid of them?

July 18 there was a "time waster" here that directed me to this site. These are usually pretty entertaining, so off I went. The opening instructions were "DO NOT PRESS". So I didn't. I just waited for something to pop up or out or... anything! After a minute or so, I went back here and she had 4o+ comments about what a hilarious time everyone had with this "time waster"! Apparently the idea was to disregard the instructions and press the button.

Hmmm. Lima beans come to mind and beg the question - Where on the scale of "normal" do I belong?

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Amish art

Gas costs a fortune... the toll roads have raised their prices... the cost of travelling these days is sky high! So, when your occupation requires hours behind the wheel, you find any way to cut expenses.

One of the ways my dearly beloved has found to cut his expenses, is to avoid the toll roads. He finds parallel roads - a bit slower, but he enjoys the sense of exploring America while he drives.

A few days ago, I hopped in the car with him and we drove to Des Moines. Faithful to his goal of cutting costs, we bypassed the toll road and took Highway 120 through Indiana Amish country.

It is easy to pick out the Amish farms. In addition to a complex of always-white barns, brown horses, and black buggies, they have perfect gardens (consistently bordered with rows of a tall red flower) near an always-white house, and clotheslines (filled with gray or blue dresses and black pants) that stretch from the always-white house to the top of the always-white barn. (Do you suppose the clothes have a farm fresh scent?)

On this trip, however, we passed a farm with something extra....

click on me to make me bigger
Your eyes do not deceive you. It is a tree trunk, carved into a bear, wearing a straw hat, sunglasses, a lei and a green hula skirt.

We drove by it three times, rubbed our eyes and pinched each other hard, just to make sure we weren't dreaming! I just had to share!

Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

Monday, July 14, 2008

The windows

I’ve stopped waving. I can’t see their car anymore, but I can still hear my daughter’s voice giving us her usual farewell.

“Bye! By-y-y-y-y-ye! By-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-ye!” I picture her head out the window, hollering a little louder just in case we are still standing on the steps to the house. And we are… clinging to that distant voice that carries through the night air.

Another visit is over. One by one, carloads of our kids, their kids and the dogs all drive in different directions to their homes.

We stand still for just a minute more straining to hear that voice, but it’s quiet now, so we head up the steps to the house. The dining room light shines through storm door windows that are covered with fingerprints, handprints and some very doggy looking smudges.

It’s late. I can wash windows tomorrow.

The morning sun reveals just how many kids made their way through that door. The bottom rows of windows are a mess! With Windex in hand, I pause just a moment and relive the laughter, the tea party, the hugs.

No one will be stopping here today. The windows can wait till…

Rejoice in the Lord, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. Psalm 97:12

Two Writing Teachers

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Zoe takes a ride

2008 07 04 051
Originally uploaded by cHimprints
This post is amazing - to me.

It is the first time my camera has been used for video. It is the first time my grandson was the video master. It is the first time Zoe travelled through the air.

And... it just makes me laugh. Zoe is a good sport.

... they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Perfecting the purse

A couple of months ago, I made a purse for myself. It was nearly perfect - a zipper pocket here, a different fabric content there and it would have been the best!

But nearly perfect is not good enough. I could have handled the no zipper pocket issue, but the premature wear on the fabric re-e-e-e-eally bothered me.

The solution? Write the first one off as a learning experience and make another one. I added a zipper pocket, a floral flap closure, did some resizing and this how it looks.

my new purse
I'll give this a trial run. Sometimes it's nice to be the guinea pig.

But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. II Corinthians 10:17

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Two summers ago, the most prolific plants in my garden were the birdhouse gourds.

Last summer, on the Fourth of July, there were enough dried gourds for every woman and child attending our family reunion, to scrub, sand, drill, clean (with masks), and paint colorful new homes for the birds in their yards.

I wanted my gourd to retain its pretty coat of paint, so I slathered on layers of outdoor varnish, and put it out for use. All summer the birds ignored my work of art. The only action the little birdhouse got was the rain that effortlessly washed my gourd clean...varnish and all.

This summer has been a different story. A little wren decided to make her home in my unadorned gourd. On rare occasions I see her poking her head out of the hole in the gourd, but she's camera shy and disappears from sight whenever I show up camera in hand.

Today, I saw my wren renter sitting on the arbor that holds her home. Her beak was full of dry grass. I imagined that I heard the raspberry as she shook her head and spit the stuff out of her mouth. She darted back into the gourd and reappeared seconds later - this time her beak full of feathers! She went through this reverse nest building several times before she became aware of me and flew off.

What in the world was she doing? Redecorating? Throwing the bum out? Making room for baby birds? I doubt I'll ever know... but it was fascinating to watch.

Never dreamed my crop of gourds would provide such a variety of experiences.

Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young... Psalm 84:3

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Family fun

It was perfect... the weather, the family, the food... we had a great time.

Since the party was at our house for the first time in several years, we decided to update our "toys" a bit. We bought a skimboard surfer (a slip & slide type pool for older kids with "surf board") and a zip line.

The surfer looked great, but it was nearly impossible to master. It reminded us of Bambi on ice - not to mention the specter of spinal damage hovering just above the water. So my son, who has a knack for tweaking the ordinary into marvelous, improvised. He and a brother-in-law took our three-man-slingshot and ran the length of the slide pulling the kids at lightning speeds. What a sight. I grabbed my camera, sat at the end of the slide (out of water's way) and got some great shots... until this little tsunami came along. I was soaked!

Banzai Ben
Oh yeah.. about our new food experiment I will say this... the only thing remarkable about Tea Eggs is that I actually spent 3 hours cooking them!

Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy word. Psalm 119:9

Thursday, July 3, 2008


It's tradition. Whether we gather for July 4th, Christmas, or Thanksgiving, some new culinary delight joins the old family favorites on the table.

A few years ago, we tried lavender lemonade. That was a keeper! My lavender plants suddenly became far more important than just lawn decor... we need those buds for our new old favorite!

fresh lavender for lemonade
This year, the experiment is Tea Eggs. After a three hour simmer in a mixture of black tea and varied spices, the shells were beautiful. The peeled eggs are very unusual. I haven't tasted yet... I'm waiting for the group bite.

tea eggs before and after peeling
As the refrigerator fills with extra food, favorite foods, and new foods, excitement builds. It won't be quiet here much longer.... doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live. Deuteronomy 8:3

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

They're coming!

July 4th is always a big deal in our family. In addition to the national celebration, we add birthdays, an anniversary, and family reunion and make it a very full day.

So this week, my workroom has expanded to include the entire house. I am finally doing all of the things that should have been done while I was busy making purses, cards and journals! You know... things like dusting and cooking?

I won't take pictures of the used swiffer duster... achoo! ... or show you the pile of dishes created while fixing big batches of all the old family favorites that everyone wants to revisit... and I refuse to yield to the temptation of showing pictures of the lush pea patch that gives and gives... I don't have time for more peas right now!

Instead, I wish you a happy week. May your weather be perfect, your burger grilled to perfection, and your heart be thankful for life in a free nation.

Uncle Jimmy's hand carved dancers
For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. Psalm 84:11