Monday, September 29, 2008

Project Organization

I love being organized. It is such a difficult thing to accomplish (and maintain) that notice must be taken when even one little corner is conquered.

Drum roll please...

Ta da! My coupon holder.

I'm loving buttons these days
With markets falling, inflation looming, uncertainty everywhere, coupons are more important than ever. (If I had access to emoticons, I would add a little winking smiley face here) The fact is, I am weary of the I-know-that-coupon-is-in-this-purse-somewhere routine that I go through with every trip to the store.

The holder is made using just a small portion of one leg from a pair of discarded jeans, along with a couple of fabric pieces from my stash. (Note: I even pulled my cams [yeah, my machine is re-e-e-ally old!] out to reinforce the pocket edges.)

The front and back are sewn right sides together, leaving an opening to turn it right side out.

In less than 2 hours - plus the time to add the unessential buttons - my money saving program is ready to go.

Today the coupons... tomorrow the... ummm... well, maybe coupons are enough for a while.

The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. Lamentations 3:24

Friday, September 26, 2008

Good, bad and yummy!

I rarely bake anymore. There aren't enough people here to consume the goodies, so that leaves me to shoulder the responsibility of preventing wasteful living... let me be blunt! Waist-full living!!!

Today, I was the designated cook for one of our church families that just had a baby. To round out the meal (why do all these common phrases suddenly take on a second meaning when discussing dessert?!?) I decided to use some of the zucchini that is piling up here. I had a recipe from the newspaper, all the ingredients and I was cooking! Oops, baking! Between my new oven (that hasn't burned anything yet!) and a great recipe, this is the final result.

Here's the recipe... just tell yourself that this is one serving of green vegetables.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake
Butter and flour a 9x13x2 pan.

2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 stick butter
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk (I used milk soured with lemon juice)
2 cups grated unpeeled zucchini
1 (16 oz.) package semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Sift 2 1/4 cups flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt into medium bowl.

In a large bowl, beat sugar, 1 stick of butter, and oil until well blended. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Mix in dry ingredients, alternating with the buttermilk, in 3 additions. Stir in zucchini.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and nuts.

Bake in preheated 325 degree oven for 50 minutes (45 minutes for me) or until tester comes out clean.

Serves 12.

Enjoy!! This cake is really good - ignore the fat grams and sugar. There has to be some fiber in there somewhere!

How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth. Psalm 119:103

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Got it covered!

Remember my new-to-me estate sale Bible? I have been searching for a cover for it, but there just aren't any that I like for that size Bible.

So, inspired by a book I just bought, Fabric Art Journals, I gathered up the necessary raw materials and spent the afternoon hard at work.

getting ready to sew
I didn't have a pattern so there was a lot of figuring and fitting. In the end, the Bible fit perfectly. I added a few vintage buttons at stress points, and on the strap.

It fits!
vintage buttons
It's just what I wanted
The final touch (yet to be decided) will be either a velcro dot or a snap to hold the strap in place.

It was the perfect way to spend an afternoon when all the world is wondering, Will there be a financial tomorrow? Will our nation survive this nightmare? Whatever happens, my "new" Bible and I are ready for action!

What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. Psalm 56:3

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wooly wonders

The green plaid wool skirt was well past its prime... the blue sweater developed holes... so I decided to see what would happen if these two items were washed in hot water. Would I end up with lovely felted wool?

The first few attempts (hot water wash and rinse - high heat dryer) brought no change at all. (After years of dry cleaning bills, that was a bit distressing!) Tonight, I whacked the garments into pieces and pulled out the big guns - my stockpot and boiling water!

hot! hot! hot!
still too hot to touch
Drying on the highest setting...
No change!
What? Am I the only person on earth that can't shrink wool?

Though it didn't become what I expected... this fabric certainly is clean!

The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Psalm 12:6

Monday, September 22, 2008

Oooo.. do I have plans

Three months from today, we will all be wishing that three months ago, we had worked on Christmas gifts. Right? So, with that in mind, I already have a plan in motion.

After months of searching, I recently found this little treasure in a flea market.

the bare bones
The reason I wanted this small case is to make it look similar to this -

the goal
I have been saving this magazine page for a couple of years, hoping to find just the right case, so that it could be outfitted to match the little person I have in mind. If I can make it look this beautiful and fill it with goodies that delight the recipient, it will be a unique gift - something from my heart to hers.

I'll keep you "posted".

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. II Corinthians 5:17

Saturday, September 20, 2008

To buy or not to buy...

I love shoes. I'm no Imelda Marcos... I do live in the real world where people buy groceries, make house payments and need insurance. But, I do love a great looking pair of comfortable shoes.

So I'm struggling right now. There is a serious "want vs. need" battle raging here. I need a new pair of shoes. Either one of these would do, thank you very much...


... but the prices are beyond what I normally plunk down to feed my need. Hence, the battle.

So far, in my search (and I am a bargain hunter - that's half the fun of shopping), I have found nothing else that will do.

Thank goodness for Zappos! Unlimited selection! Free shipping and returns! Hmmm... maybe Zappos is the reason I can't find what I like around here.

...How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! Romans 10:15

Thursday, September 18, 2008


They may not look important. In fact, they look pretty nasty...

goodbye old friends!
...but this beat up pair of pencils with their cracked rubber-band wrapper has been saving my neck for ... well, I've lost track of how long... let's say, months.

A while back (time flies when you're in the laundry room), my washer decided it was tired. To let me know that this was the case, the switch that turns everything on when the lid is lowered, quit. In my world, there is hardly anything worse than a laundromat. So, after some desperate detective work, I discovered that the switch could be manually activated. The down side of that was that it meant I had to stand there the entire time.

Enter my rubber-band-wrapped-two-pencil-eraser-down-switch-activator! I could no longer close the lid of my washer, but that was ok. I could still do laundry in the comfort of my own home.

Today, I have a new washer. (You'll have to take my word for the beauty of the machine, because there is no way that I will show a picture of my laundry room!) My little pencils have been retired. This is my final salute for a job well done!

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. I Corinthians 10:31

Monday, September 15, 2008

The dress

The wonderful thing about clothes that fit, is that when you move, they move. They don't go up when you reach up, and get caught on something (most likely, excess you) when you put your arms down.

I loved this dress the minute I saw it. I bought it to wear to my daughter's wedding... perfect day, pefect dress, wonderful memories.

But this lovely dress has been packed away for a few years... seems the dress stayed the same, but I changed. First, it stopped moving when I moved. Then, I couldn't move in it. So, surrendering to the battle of the bulge(s), I carefully folded the beloved dress and packed it away in the cedar chest.

It makes me laugh when I meet people that I haven't seen in ages who say, "you haven't changed a bit!" They don't know about the dress... and I'm not going to tell!

Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing. Psalm 92:13,14

for Memoir Mondays - Two Writing Teachers

Delightful day

The excuse was... I needed a gift for a friend. So, I had to go into my workroom and get busy.

The truth was... I had so much fun on Saturday afternoon... dreaming and stamping and ripping and gluing.

It would have been more efficient to go buy something, anything! But where's the delight in that? This was heart and soul...

While I was at it, I made a few birthday cards too.

birthday cards
I might as well face it... the day was really a gift to me!

My soul shall be joyful in the Lord: it shall rejoice in His salvation. Psalm 35:9

Friday, September 12, 2008

Growing tomatoes

Don't laugh...

... this is my tomato patch. (I even held my camera at ground level so there would be any green!) Granted, it is almost the end of the season, but my tomatoes have looked like this for a couple of weeks.

Believe it or not, these sorry plants sent me off on a spiritual journey. (Who knew dying tomatoes could cause growth?!) Today I read in Psalm 92...

The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree... they shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing;

It amazes me how nature's way and the Christian life are completely opposite... tomatoes wither and die at the end of the season (take my crop for example!), but the righteous bear fruit in old age. In fact, fat and flourishing is quite a picture of health.

Other opposites to the natural life came to mind - love your enemies, pray for them which despitefully use you, return good for evil - just to name a few. Not an easy road to walk...

It isn't natural...

It's God-like.

They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing; to show the Lord is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him. Psalm 92:14,15

Monday, September 8, 2008

Great taste! No waste!

I have a favorite restaurant in the Chicago area - Portillo's. One of their menu items is a Garbage Salad. This is how they describe it -

"It's got a bunch of junk in it! Like blah, blah, blah... and on top of all that garbage is a trashy ... dressing."

I have only ordered it once (the Chopped Salad is what I love), but the memory of this unique dish inspired our dinner tonight - Garbage Stew.

This really is yummy!

We are off on a business trip for a couple of days and the refrigerator is filled with leftovers... bits too small to make a meal, but too much to toss.... hence, Garbage Stew with a "bunch of junk in it."

To give my hungry hubby some reason to look forward to this meal, I did make Southwest Cheddar Muffins, hot from the oven, slathered with soft butter. It doesn't get better than this.

Here's the recipe for the muffins... there is no recipe for Garbage Stew!

Southwest Cheddar Muffins
Makes 12
Preheat oven to 425
Grease a 12-cup muffin tin or line with paper liners

1/4 cup white flour
1/4 cup soy flour
1 cup cornmeal (stone ground is best)
2 Tbs sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chili powder
In a medium bowl, whisk or sift these together.

In another bowl whisk -
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup oil
2 eggs

Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture, stirring just until mixed.

Gently fold in -
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup canned green chilies, chopped (optional)

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin pan and bake for 20 minutes. These can make Garbage Stew look like food for kings!

O fear the Lord, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him. Psalm 34:9

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Deadlines, tomatoes and the needful thing

I have a little booklet, written in 1967, that needs to be reviewed every once in while, "Tyranny of the Urgent" by Charles Hummel.

It has been on my mind the last week or two because of the incredible number of tasks that have piled up before me. Things that need attention now! Report deadlines are upon me, meetings happen, tomatoes get softer by the day....

God's provision
I should be writing an encouraging note to a friend in distress because her mother needs nursing home care. I should be sending a long overdue thank you note for gifts I received. I should be writing... but these things can wait, and so they do.

I often think of Mary, sitting at the feet of Jesus, straining to hear His every word over the noise of the crowd gathered in her house. I wonder, how could she push aside the sight of hungry people in her own home who were waiting for food to be served? How did she ignore the exasperation of her sister who needed help in the kitchen?

But, most importantly, how did Jesus respond when Martha demanded Mary's help?

"Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:41,42)

Priorities... One thing is needful. One thing.

Monday, September 1, 2008

August is a memory

August is a hard month. There is always a grey cloud on the horizon...

My younger son's birthday is in August, near the end of the month. Although he stopped having birthdays 17 months ago, that day, that birth day, belongs to him.

Though God sometimes leads me in a difficult path, I always, always, find evidence of the fact that He has gone before me to make that path bearable.

How, you ask? I'll give a few (chosen from a multitude) examples.

1.) Eight years ago, a little girl arrived in our family on August 26th, the day before her uncle's birthday. At the time the birthdays seemed to be piling up. Now? We are grateful for a person to hug and give gifts to... a distraction from the fact that we can't do that the following day.

2.) Last week, Rod had an unexpected vacation week. It happened so abruptly, that we had no special plans and he spent the week playing Mr. Fix-it here at home. (It was a good week for me not to be alone.) And, because he was not working, we could spend August 26th with our granddaughter... watching her face fill with delighted embarrassment as her classmates sang Happy Birthday to her.

Juliana hands out treats
3.) Sunday night, 12 of our family members gathered at Carraba's in Ka'zoo to celebrate the birthday. We reviewed the "remember whens", laughed, and grieved... It was a soothing time for all of us. The crowning point, just before parting ways, was when our grandson (who bears his uncle's name) stood outside Barnes & Noble regaling us with jokes that Grey would have loved. We laughed all the way to our cars, satisfied that Grey had been properly honored.

joke time
And now it's September... an easier month. I thank God for carrying me through... for loving me... for caring for my son.

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Psalm 91:1,2