Friday, August 29, 2008

Our Vacation to North Carolina

Well, well, well! It's Family Friday again. And there's only one post between this one and last Friday's post. :)

My suitcase is unpacked - and my backpack, two instruments, hairstuff-box, purse, pillow, and other odds and ends are put away. Hey, I travel light! (not really.)

So...I think I am ready to tell y'all about my week with my family.

Over the years, we have kept an informal list of people and places we'd like to visit some day. When looking for a common denominator, we found that a large number of the things on our list were in North Carolina, so, spontaneously, Dad decided to take us on a trip this month.

When we left home, we weren't sure where all we'd have time to stop, nor what day we'd be coming home. That was a very unusual way to start out - at least for us - but the whole trip turned out lovely. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I had asked God to mightily bless us on this trip, and He sure answered my prayers!


First, Dad had to work in the morning, so we left home right after lunch. Our first stop was at a mission run by friends of ours, who are involved with shipping out many Bibles and Christian literature both here in the United States, and abroad in other languages. They have an apartment connected to the mission which they graciously offered to us during our stay in Asheville.

The place was lovely. It was right outside Asheville, and perfect for our needs.

I don't remember much about Saturday except thinking that a five hour trip wasn't bad at all, compared to the much longer trips we usually take. And I remember being pleased with the scenery all around us.

We ate supper at a fast food place (I'm afraid our diet wasn't exactly healthy this week!), ran out to do a little shopping for the week's food at a nearby grocery store (a really cute store!), and went to bed.


We were blessed to be able to attend the church that our friends went to, which was on the same property as the mission. The church family seemed thrilled to have us there, and quickly "put us to work," asking the six of us children to sing and play instruments in both the morning and afternoon services. It was an honor to be able to do that for them. They treated us so special, and were very kind. The sermons were excellent, full of the gospel.

A noon meal was served between services, and again we were overwhelmed with blessings. The pastor's wife was a lovely hostess.

After the afternoon service, everyone was invited to stay and help a little with an interesting project...

...In the fellowship hall of the church there were huge stacks of banana boxes - reaching the ceiling. Each box was stuffed with envelopes, which were packages full of books and literature for pastors in the southern part of the USA.

There were 9,185 packages. The stacks of boxes were enormous.

Each envelope needed to be labeled with an address; this was the special project.

We, and the church members who chose to stay, took our places around some tables, and went to work. It really wasn't work. It was loads of fun. We worked in pairs, each pair filling a post office bag with 45 packages, then progressing to the next. We quit after each pair had filled 4 bags.

Sunday evening was very relaxing. We just talked, ate supper, sat around, relaxed....


Sunday night, I dreamed of a rainstorm. In my dream, I started crying and praying "thank You!" I continued this all night.

When I awoke Monday morning, it was raining. And I mean raining.

It continued to pour the entire time we were in North Carolina. We found out on Wednesday that the city of Asheville had received 5 inches of rain in three days. We hoped we were getting some back home.

We had intended to go touring that morning, but voted unanimously to instead go help label packages again. So we found the folks who were working in the mission, and asked for permission to go over to the church and do some work. Of course they said yes. :)

Though the hall we were working in was quite spacious, the rain outside gave it a cozy feeling. We labeled, sang songs, laughed, lifted boxes, packed bags, and stacked bags all morning.

At lunch time, we headed back to the apartment for a bite to eat, then decided to see if we could find the bookstore that our friends own in downtown Asheville. Afterward, we planned to head over to take a trolley tour of Asheville's historic area. Sounded like fun to us!

We made it to the bookstore and really enjoyed browsing it. After making a few purchases, we headed out again; this time to find the trolley rides.

Well,... let's just say that we all agreed we hardly needed a trolley tour after the impromptu tour we gave ourselves while trying to find where we were going that afternoon! Asheville is a beautiful city; lots of old buildings, large trees, fascinating architecture, ...and really confusing streets. It took us awhile to find the visitor center, where they sold the trolley tickets.

Once inside the visitor center, at about 3:57, we discovered that the last tour of the day had left at 3:30. Lovely.

Well...our friends had invited us to supper at their house at 6:00. That left us about two hours to do whatever - go get "lost" again, or browse the visitor center and adjoining gift shop.

Though touring the city of Asheville's back streets and highways is fascinating ('specially when you see the same streets over and over again...not on purpose), we decided to restrain ourselves and stay in the visitor center for awhile.

But one can only browse brochures, key chains, mugs, dolls, and T-shirts for so long. At about 4:30, Mom and Dad decided to break the monotony by calling our friends and asking for directions to their house. In doing so, they discovered that going there would take us about 20-30 minutes.

I think our friends forgot to factor in a very important element.

It's called the let's-go-tour-Asheville-no-of-course-we're-not-lost-it's-just-the-streets-keep-moving-on-us-syndrome.

So we left the visitor center at about 4:40.

Despite turning around three or four times on the way there, we had a wonderful evening once we arrived at the house of our friends. This couple really have a heart for the Lord and missions, and just listening to them talk is spiritually refreshing. We got all sorts of first-hand mission news, plus stories of past trips and adventures. The meal was delicious, the fellowship excellent. It was hard to leave.

But we did, hoping to have enough light left to find our way home in the twilight.

Several minutes after sunset, we were at the stop light in front of the turnoff to our friend's house, saying "hey - this is where we came from! We've gone in a circle!"

Ahhh...let me make a long story short and say that we finally arrived safely at the apartment, with more streets of Asheville to add to our repertoire.


This was a wonderful day.

We headed off to Cherokee, two hours away, to do some touring there. My father is 1/8th Cherokee, which makes my siblings and me 1/16th, so we are interested in the history of the Cherokee.

The deluge of water coming out of the sky made our trip a little more...interesting. The mountains all around us were robed in heavy fog - but, actually, it was quite pretty to look at.

Of course, getting in and out at stops made the van a muddy mess, but that was to be expected.

Well, Cherokee has a lovely little visitor center, and we spent quite awhile there, hoping the rain would stop so we could do an outdoor walking tour of a Cherokee village. We had done it once before, about 14 years ago, when we older children were small, and really wanted to do it again. Besides, we knew where it was!

But, though we sat hopefully in the van, in the parking lot where the tour starts, as we ate our picnic lunch, the rain showed no signs of stopping. So we regretfully turned back into town and found a Cherokee museum.

That was good. It was a nice museum, that took us about 2 and 1/2 hours to go through. I got all sorts of craft ideas! I want to try basket weaving, bead work, and making an authentic Cherokee woman dress. The history was also fascinating.

I have some pen pals who live about one and a half or two hours away from Cherokee, and they and their family had been kind enough to invite my family to come to their house for supper that night. I was SO excited to see them!

Well, I remember thinking that Mom and Dad were really smart, because decided that we'd better leave Cherokee about one hour ahead of time.

Hmm. Let me just say that we needed that extra hour. We got to the house about 15 minutes early. Enough said.

The rain actually stopped long enough for us to get into the house without getting wet, and the sun came out to cheer us. (It started raining again, about 20 minutes later.) Not that I needed cheering - I was so excited!

It was great - I love you guys! Thank you so much for the time we had at your home!

I can't say enough about our visit there. It was great. Wonderful. A blessing. Refreshing. Fun. Entertaining. Uplifting. Too short.

I think we actually made it home on the first try.


On this day, we decided to do some Asheville touring, rain or no rain. First, however, we had to do some laundry at a near-by laundry mat. Not knowing how long our trip would be, some folks hadn't brought enough clothing.

I volunteered to spend the morning with Mom at the laundry mat, and I got some reading and embroidery done while we waited for the loads to wash and dry. I also passed out a tract to an older lady who was there.

When we first walked in, we were joined by four other people; a man by himself, and a couple. We had some trouble figuring out how to work the machines, and asked the man for some help, which he nicely gave. Then the woman asked him where she and her husband could find a hardware store;

"We're from out of town," she explained "and we've been camping. We really need to buy a tarp. With all this rain..."

She didn't need to explain.

"Sorry, I'm from New Jersey," the man replied.

The woman turned to Mom and I. We quickly laughed and shook our heads. "We're from out of town, too."

So we foreigners stayed there and washed our clothes.

The jeans seemed to take forever to dry, and it was 11:30 by the time we got all the laundry done. Back at the apartment, we ate lunch, then headed out.

This time, we were sure to get to the visitor center in time for the trolley rides.

It was a great tour. I love old buildings and history, and the tour was full of both. The city of Asheville is beautiful. They say it stood still in time; during the great depression, it crashed from its status as a place for the mighty rich, and had no money to update its old buildings to new ones. Now, new businesses thrive in old buildings, and the city has a flavor all its own.

We even saw the Biltmore Estate, from a distance. At least, we're pretty sure that we saw it. The distance was so far we couldn't be sure, but there just couldn't have been another building around that was that big. Just think; 250 rooms! I wouldn't want to clean it, but I'd love to go inside and take a look.

Wednesday night church services were... moving. It was a true prayer service. The short address before hand was convicting and powerful. Then the men and women separated into different rooms to pray. My mother, sisters, and I were privileged to join with those women in prayer.

I knew the moment we bowed our heads that I was amongst spiritual warriors. I've never been in a room with so many bare hearts. Somehow I knew the Lord was not just "listening," but bowing down His ear to hear attentively. These women knew how to pray. As our pastor would have said, "they had a hold of the foot of God." Many in that room - me included - were in tears by the time they finished.

Then we had to say goodbye. We knew we wouldn't see these folks again before we left, except for the ones that worked at the mission. They had all been so gracious and loving. It was sad to say farewell.

Our going-home day started slowing. We spent the morning cleaning the apartment we had used, and tidying and packing. We were ready to head out at about 11:30.

On our way home, we planned to stop at the grave site of a man named Shubal Stearns. If you don't know his name, this is too small of a place for me to explain. I have been studying his life for the past three years, and am still fascinated with every new detail I uncover.

He was a Baptist preacher who lived in the days right before the War for Independence, and had a mighty part in preparing the way for it. His story moves me to tears. It is due to him that the Bible Belt was created in the southern states. I wish I could tell you everything, but there just isn't time to do him justice.

Most of America is ignorant of this man's life, and it took us hours of trailing around on back country roads before we found the small, tidy little church where he is buried, near where his old church building is located.

I can't explain to you the way I felt as we walked over the grounds and explored the old church. Nothing was locked. No one was there. It was as if no one knew how important this place was. We slipped inside, looked around, and left. But I will never forget that spot.

It was a quiet place. Birds were singing, and the road didn't have much traffic at all. The sun was shining brightly - as if it knew we needed to see everything.

Words fail me. I must proceed with my tale.

The trip home didn't seem very long at all. We were back here in time for a late supper, after which we went to bed. Well... most of the family went to bed. I, brilliant person that I am, didn't go to bed at a proper time at all, but stayed up late finishing a story about Napoleon's retreat from Moscow. A fascinating book. Too fascinating. I won't even hint at what time I woke up this morning. It's still vacation, right? :)

And now I have spent my day unpacking, and going to catch that sale at Joann Fabrics...and a few other things. It's a very unexciting way to end this little history, but I'm sure that some of you are getting bored, if you made it the far down the page. This post certainly makes up for the lack of posting I had this week!

So there you have it; what I've been doing while you've heard nothing but silence from me.

Oh - by the way - thanks for your loyalty. I see from my blog counter that most of you have continued to check in with me every day to see if I've posted anything. I was afraid you would give up on me. It makes me happy to know you cared enough to check in. Thanks!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I'm back in the land of the living

Hello, world!

I've just spent almost six days in a phone-less, Internet-less environment.

It was great.

My apologies to those of you whom I told that I would be on vacation for a week, and able to check my email and post on my blog. I was wrong.

But I didn't mind that much. It was great to be with my family so much, and have nothing much else to think of.

But let me back up and explain where I really was this week.

My family took a trip to Asheville, North Carolina. Unlike most of our family trips, which are for visiting extended family (which is wonderful, by the way), this trip was just for touring purposes and the like.

I can't wait to share all about my week with y'all, but I have to sit down and collect my thoughts, so I don't overwhelm you with a very energetic but random and wild post. After all, we only got home an hour ago.

Besides...I want to finish the book I was reading in the van. :)

Until my thoughts are collected, my suitcase is unpacked, (and the book is finished), I'll leave you with a few highlights:

~ IT RAINED HERE YESTERDAY!!!! Our neighbor across the street said she couldn't see our house for the rain. As we drove home, we could see that the parking lot of the plaza nearest us was still full of puddles - on asphalt. Our yard is soaked, and the scent of water still hangs in the air. I think the 2-month drought may be broken. Thank You, Lord! Our rain barrels are filled to the brim, and slosh water out if tapped ever so slightly. There are more ripe tomatoes on our vines than I can count, one of my marigold plants has four bright yellow blossoms on it, and our lovely red dust is now lovely red clay! I love it!

~ I almost always pray for our family before we go on a trip, that we may be a blessing to those we meet, be a shining testimony, and good witnesses. This time, I added to my prayer; I asked God to pour out His blessings on us, and bring us home spiritually refreshed. I asked Him to bring many of His people into our path, and let us fellowship with many other believers. I begged Him to bless us richly. He answered my prayers abundantly! I can't wait to tell you about the ways God used His people to pour out blessings on us in the past few days.

~ I have come home with all sorts of craft inspirations and historical stories flitting through my brain. We toured many historic spots and visited a museum.... my mind is bulging with what my senses have taken in throughout the week. Theme parks and amusement rides might be what thrills others, but I LOVE history, and this week has been GREAT!

Friday, August 22, 2008



Family Friday is here again.

It's only 10:16 in the morning, but I've already had with two of my siblings today.

I've also had some heart-to-heart moments with two other siblings today, but that doesn't cancel out the other episodes.

Of course, they weren't arguments. No indeed. Who argues? They were merely discussions.

Sigh. I'd best be honest.

Peace and love in a home is the first sign of Christ's presence there. There is love here this morning...but peace - several minutes ago - wasn't the first adjective that came to my mind.

It wasn't really my siblings' faults. I was just being impatient and pushy. When will I learn?

So, I don't have anything profound to share today. Just the news that Amber isn't perfect.

But, then, was that really news?

A Quilting Idea

I've been praying lately that the Lord would give me some ideas for creative ways to be frugal/earn money.

Yesterday, while sitting in the living room right before having my devotions, my eye fell on a JoAnn Fabric flyer, and I picked it up, intending to just skim it quickly.

And I did. I quickly got to the center section of the flyer, which held coupons for the coming Labor Day sale; the one that caught my eye was "10% off your entire purchase; sale or regular items."

A plan had been formulating in my mind for several weeks, and suddenly it all fell together yesterday morning when I saw that add.

There is a current fad in the quilting world of using "fat quarters" to make quilts. A fat quarter is 1/4 of a yard, but cut differently than if you simply went to the counter and asked for 1/4 a yard from a bolt. It is wider; more like a square. You could cut two of these yourself from 1/2 a yard.

Right now, I have a current quilting project in my sewing area that is made entirely of fat quarters:

This is the beginnings of a baby quilt. The picture is a little out-dated, because I now have the top together, and only need to do some embroidery before I quilt the layers.

Making this quilt was my first time using fat quarters, and I was pleased with how simple it is to work with them.

One thing was a drawback, however; the price! I got my fat quarters on sale for $1, but even that can run up there when you're talking about enough fabric for a quilt. Regular quilting fabric will often go on sale for $2 a yard, which means a 1/4 yard of that would be $0.50 - half the price of fat quarters on sale.

Amazing, how much they charge for pre-cut fabric!

So why not cut my own? I've been thinking about that a lot.

So here's what I've come up with:

On Labor Day, I hope to go to Joann's and pick out 20 separate yards of quilting fabric. That fabric should be on sale for $2-3 dollars a yard. Say it's all $2; that's $40. Then, if I use the %10 coupon, it will only be $36.

20 yards of fabric, cut into 80 fat quarters, is enough fabric for FOUR twin-size quilts. $36 divided by 4 is $9.

Nine dollars per quilt.

That is not a bad price for a quilt top; at least, not compared to what I've spent before. Of course, if I didn't want to invest $36, I could buy 10 yards of fabric, and make two quilts, just using the fabric twice in each quilt. After using the coupon, that would still be $9 a quilt, but I would have spent only $18 instead of $36.

But if I figure in the hours of time spent making the quilts, and remember that if I use assembly-line methods to piece them all, making four quilts is better use of my time than making two....

I don't know yet what I'll do. This is all still in the planning stage. Of course, the store also must have 20 separate fabrics that actually match each other. At our little store, that will be a challenge. I was hard pressed to find matching fabric for the baby quilt.

Then I must figure out if I can afford the backing and batting for 4 quilts.

All these things to consider.

But I thought the main concept was a pretty cool idea. Do any of you have ideas for tweaking the plan?

Oh, by the way click here to see if your area is having any good JoAnn sales.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

It's Finished!

Yes, Mom's gift is done! After 3 months of work, hours of doing and re-doing, many laughs and groans, Curtis and I have completed Mom's gift. ...With a little help from Dad (with the counter top).

We moved it into place in the kitchen yesterday. I wish I had a "finished" picture, but I haven't had time to take one yet! Until then, here's a picture of me working on it last week. (Photography complements of one of my little sisters.)

This is in our small "workshop" in our basement. Please pardon the mess. :) You can see that all the drawers are out and standing on their ends behind me. At this point I was working on sanding.

Most of the sanding had to be done by hand, but even that created a LOT of dust. And I mean LOT. Can you see the blurriness of the picture? When I was done in there, my hairline, which hadn't been covered, looked as if I had white hair, and my eyes looked like I was wearing sawdust mascara. Really full, white lashes. :)

Anyway, I learned all sorts of lessons while working on this project. Not just skill-lessons, either. I also learned lessons about relating to my brother, patience, and I saw many illustrations of wood compared to mankind. For example -

...No, I won't go into that right now. I need to go plant some peas before the sun gets too hot. I did get to plant beets on Tuesday! Yeah!

Please, would y'all help me pray for rain? We really need it. Every time I step outside, I see the land crying for moisture. The grass is crunchy under foot, where it hasn't disappeared altogether. The tree leaves are turning brown and falling prematurely. Our tomatoes, peppers, and other plants are very stunted in size. The dirt is more like dust than anything else, and blows away in the wind.

If we could see this world through spiritual eyes, I have no doubt that we would see a much drier picture than even our land shows. So many hearts are dead. So many Christians are dry. "Mercy drops 'round us are falling, but the showers we need!"

I want to tell y'all a little of what happened on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, as Curtis and I witnessed to the children during our Bible Club, but I don't want to rush through the story, so I'll have to save it for now.

Until Later,

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

How the bread turned out

Well, surprisingly, I followed the recipe exactly (well, okay, I added one ingredient), and it turned out delicious.

This was the first time in months that we've used our "own" wheat. Mom just bought a small bag of wheat berries, and I ground some of them for use in this recipe. It was so good to smell that milled-grain scent; we hadn't used our mill in so long! And the finished product had a lovely nutty flavor that only comes from home-ground flour.

I was surprised at how basic and simple this recipe is. It's bread. And that's it. There's nothing spectacular about the way it turns out...except for the shape (I love that!). Everything else is completely normal. It's just a neat way to make bread on a hot summer day, to avoid turning on the oven.

I think I'll try it again sometime.

I'm in love

"...He is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend..."

"I am my beloved's, and His desire is toward me."

"Who is a God like into thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger forever, because he delighteth in mercy."

"Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into thy lips... ...Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever; the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness... ...all thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad. Kings daughters were among thy honorable women...Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline they ear; forget thine own people and thy father's house."

"Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee..."

"How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings. They shall be abundantly satisfied..."

"I will love thee, O LORD, my strength."

"O my soul, thou hast said unto the LORD, Thou art my LORD...the lines have fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage...I will bless the LORD,...Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth; my flesh also shall rest in hope. ...Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand are pleasures for evermore."

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A New Recipe

We are just beginning to be able to cook in our kitchen again. Tuesdays are usually my nights to cook, and I like to make a bread of some sort on most weeks. This week, however, I don't really want to make bread the usual way, for fear of lingering drywall dust or paint flakes getting into the dough.

Therefore, I'm trying something new. While in WalMart yesterday, I saw a cookbook of slow cooker recipes, and flipped through a few pages. The recipe title "slow cooker wheat bread" caught my eye, but I didn't have time to read the recipe.

This morning, I typed those words into Google, and here's what I came up with. I think I'll try it tonight. I'll let y'all know how it turns out! Have any guesses before hand as to what it will taste like?

Update on our "wood project":

After ten and a half hours of staining (5 and 1/2 on Friday, and 5 on Saturday), I'm pleased to announce that the staining of Mom's gift is complete.

But I never knew you could stretch so many different ways to reach all the little nooks and crannies in a cupboard of drawers. :) Neither did I know that such sitting, squatting, and stretching for ten and a half hours in two days will leave you feeling unbelievably stiff and sore. Nor did I know that inhaling stain for the same amount of time will leave your throat feeling raw.

Now, two days later, and several iotas wiser, I'm glad the project is so close to completion. Last night Curtis screwed all eight handles in place. The handles were being fussy, but he refused to go to quit until he conquered them. He ended up bringing a lamp outside so he could see, but with moths flying around and stars beginning to peek out above him, he continued working until he could come fetch me with a triumphant smile.

I'm pleased with how it looks. I can't wait to show y'all finished pictures....and share some of the lessons I've learned while working on this project.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Answered once again

The world thinks of "happiness" as synonymous with the strangest things.

We've just come home from a little shopping trip. At the checkout, I met eyes with the lady cashier and smiled.

"Well, you're sure smiling big today," she observed.

I responded with another smile.

"Let me see if I can guess why you're so happy."

I tilted my head a little, which she took as permission.

"'re getting married?"

I laughed and shook my head.

"You're leaving for college?"

Another shake of the head.

"You're brother is leaving home?"

Another shake of my head, but I felt like crying at that one. "Why should she think that would make me happy?"

"...Um," she turned to my youngest brother, who was standing behind me. "Well, where's your smile? What's the matter?"

Justin's smile peeped out, and he shrugged his shoulders. He's always been a little shy.

"Did your girl friend break up with you, right before you came in the store?"

I couldn't believe that one. He's not even a teenager.

"Well, if she did, do you want me to go beat her up? I'll do that for you, 'cause I like you. I think you're a cool kid."

I could tell she was trying to make him laugh. He smiled politely, but he didn't laugh. How could he?

All I could think of was how shallow the world's train of thought is. I like this cashier. We've had her many times in that store, and she's always ready to strike up conversation. But I always come away from her thinking how saw her life must be. How empty. How devoid of purpose.

Then I suddenly remembered the million-dollar-bill tracts I keep in my purse. The world may have shallow thought lives, but money sure makes them take notice.

"Here - here's something to make you happy," I said as we were about to leave.

She took the fake bill and smiled. "Well, okay. Thanks. Hey - a thousand dollar - no, a million dollar bill! Thank you very much." She turned it over and over, skimming the fine print on the back that proclaimed the gospel message. I saw her set it nearby as she turned to take the next customer.

Then I saw a lady in the next lane, straining to see the bill. "May I look? I've never seen one of those before."

I realized that she thought the bill was real.

"Oh, here; you can have one."

She took it and looked at it.

"You can keep it," I said.

"Is it real?" She quickly held it out to me again.

"Oh no, it's fake. It's okay - you keep it."

She smiled and took it back.

We walked away, out the store door. It wasn't until we were in the parking lot that I remembered.

I had prayed just yesterday that the Lord would give me witnessing opportunities. He's answered me once again!


I just might have time to work in the garden today. The lack of rain is really taking a toll on the plants, as you can see by comparing this recent picture to earlier ones:

In the bottom left corner you can see my now-dead squash plants, and in the back two beds (upper center of the photo) you can see our bush beans, which basically turned brown before giving us any fruit.

But I don't mean to sound pessimistic. I'm so glad God's given us enough land to have a garden, and I'm thankful for a Dad with a green thumb. :) I'm also thankful Dad teaches me what he knows, and lets me do a lot on my own with our garden.

Today I plan (read: "if I finish laundry, a computer-related task, dishes, and painting,") to plant beets and carrots in one of the beds that is now holding the dead bean plants. I'll tear those out, add vermiculite to the soil (to help it hold more moisture), add some compost, turn it all up really well, and then plant.

At least our tomatoes did okay this season. We had 30 tomato plants, which would have given us a humongous harvest if the soil had been better, and enough rain had fallen. Even as it was, we had enough to supply us with tomato sandwiches almost every lunch, and some left over to make into sauce. Now the supply is beginning to taper off.


...if I don't get to the garden, I'll have plenty of other things to keep me busy. I and my brother, Curtis, are preparing for a evangelism outreach that we will be doing today, Tuesday, and Wednesday, Lord willing.

Some friends have invited us to reach out to the children in their neighborhood by hosting a three-day Bible Club. We will be able to clearly present the gospel through this. I'd really appreciate if y'all would pray for the Lord to prepare the hearts of these children. I've seen a lot of child evangelism that simply pressures children to "pray a prayer," and we don't want that. We want the Holy Spirit to truly claim some of these children for Himself.

May each of us show Jesus to the world today!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Yes, I know it's Saturday, but...

...Yesterday, I was so busy that I was unable to post my Family Friday entry for this week, and I didn't want to skip this one!

Because y'all haven't offered any input yet, on which photos I should share first, I've uploaded 106 more photos. *grin* Included were these photos from Wednesday's picnic with Dad:

As I mentioned before, Dad couldn't let his "vacation" week go by without some family time. He surprised us girls with a picnic in the mountains this Wednesday. It was the first time just us four have been out with Dad for something like that, which felt different, but it also felt special, and was a lot of fun.

Sometimes the simple things bring the most enjoyment. During our drive to the mountains, we had the windows open, and I couldn't help laughing as I watch my younger sisters dissolve in giggling fits because of the wind blowing their hair. When I opened my mouth to talk to Dad, and got a mouthful of Tiffany's hair, their laughter knew no bounds.

We had lunch at this outlook, then spent some time taking pictures of one another, posed on the rocks. I enjoyed the opportunity to practice some photography. Dad was able to give me some tips; he's studied photography. Heather took this picture.

...And then Dad took this one of Heather and me.

And here's the four of us girls again, at a different location that day. I love how all of our heads are on the same level in the photo. It helps me imagine what it'll be like when the little girls are no longer little. I can hardly picture what our lives will be like then! What do our futures hold? Only the Lord knows.

One day we'll all be grown up, and these days will be only memories...

And thanks to our parents and the Lord, they are good memories.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Marathon Continues...

The week is progressing so fast! Thankfully, our family is accomplishing things slowly but surely.

Today Mom and Dad went shopping together to pick out paint, wallpaper border, and molding for the kitchen. It's going to be so pretty when it's all put together! ...'Specially compared to the "before" pictures. :) I love the colors Mom chose.

My own special project is also coming along. Today I spent all morning (9:00- 11:30) sanding. My younger sister, Tiffany, came down to the workshop for the second day in a row. She's SUCH a help! I was able to accomplish twice as much with her assistance, and she loved knowing that she was - as she put it - "actually helping you!"

I think younger siblings feel more than we realize. They know when we think they're in the way. They can't possibly enjoy feeling like a hindrance. What a sparkle came into Tiffany's eyes when she saw that I couldn't have done what I did this morning without her! Sanding is something that she can actually do, and do well. She loved that. ...You know what? I did too.

By far, the Fruit of the Spirit exceeds the Fruits of the Hands in beauty. I have been learning lately that I ought to pray every morning for the fruit of the Spirit to be in me. all these things surpass any material thing I could create. And they can only come through the power of the Holy Spirit. The new birth alone will make a tree that is able to bear such fruit. That is also something I've been learning lately.

...But back to this morning.

I was really hoping to finish the sanding today. And I did! I estimate that I've spent about 20 hours in sanding the whole project, and for about 4 hours of that time, Tiffany was helping me. If I had been alone, it would have taken that much longer. As it was, I thought we would never finish! So many nooks and crannies!

This evening, right before supper, I moved everything outside and went over everything with a cloth to remove the sawdust. Tomorrow, I hope to start staining!

Other news from today: I was finally able to upload some pictures! 82 of them, to be exact. I guess they really have been piling up. At the rate I post pictures, that store ought to last me a year. :)

So... what to share first? That's the big question. Food pictures; what I've been baking lately (well, when I still had a kitchen)? Pictures of the kitchen in progress? Picture of painting the shutters, last week? Pictures of the garden? Pictures of singing at a widows' home...several weeks ago? Pictures of painting the deck?

Then, of course, there are the pictures of my quilt-in-progress, that I still haven't shown you, and...and...and...

Oh yes - more big news! Dad was really sweet, and took all his daughters on a picnic yesterday. We drove along the Blue Ridge Parkway, stopping at many of the outlooks, and had lunch at one, with a spectacular view below us. We spent the entire morning, just with Dad, walking, driving, looking, taking pictures, eating, and talking. It was wonderful.

A whole week on "vacation," and no special activities done with his family just wouldn't go for Dad. Tonight he's taking his sons camping, with plans to hike in the morning. What a father I have! Lots of work to be done, but he took pains to make sure we got some family time in this week. Thanks, Daddy. We love you!

Of course we took lots of pictures yesterday, on the picnic. Those pictures aren't even included in the 82 I uploaded. Upload pictures the day after you take them? Impossible! :)

So what do y'all think? Should we make it easy, and just go in chronological order? Or should we make it interesting and have a vote? Or should I just show whatever I can't wait to show? Or should I blow every one's monitors, and load all 82 photos on one post, with more to come later?

Until y'all help me decide, here are two pictures from yesterday, which I stole from my sister's blog (she always seems to upload faster than I do!):

We ate our lunch at this outlook. Beautiful view!

Oh yes. And on the way home, guess what we found in the road - all alive and everything? For those of you who are wondering; yes, it is a rattlesnake.

Sweet dreams!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Looky! A Picture!

Yes, I finally have at least one picture to share, of the wood project I keep talking about.

I call it a "movable kitchen island," for lack of a better name. It was originally a birthday gift for Mom, and I guess it still is, but it's over a month late. Oops! We started it in late May, and had no idea what a big bite of work we were taking. I've wondered many times since then "whatever made me think we could make this?"

The above picture was taken several weeks ago, and we've made a lot of visible progress since then. Honestly, this doesn't look like much if you don't know about all the work that went into it, but what we have now looks much better.

I'm so proud of the job my brother, Curtis, did on this project. I designed it, and he was the one who showed me how we would go about building it. I had only planned aesthetics; he made the skeleton. He also did much - make that most - of the work in putting all the wood together. I only held pieces of wood in place, handed him the drill, picked up after us, kept him company, encouraged him to keep going when we felt defeated, picked up dropped nails, made suggestions about altering the design, and amused him by stripping a screw.

I wish I could have been more of a help, but stripped screws and boards that are too short really hinder progress on a wood project. I know when to keep my hands off. Curtis was gracious enough to say that my encouragement was, to a large degree, responsible for him finishing the project, but to make things more even, I said I would do all the sanding and staining; I know how to do that!

I guess you can tell by the picture that we're working with cheaper wood than you're really supposed to. My budget forces us to be frugal. It's actually pretty fun to be creative, and find ways to use every scrap of wood. Curtis was able to save us enormous amounts of money, with his knowledge of how to have as little wasted wood as possible left over.

...So, anyway, this is "the project" that has been using up a great deal of my time lately. There's still much to be done, but it's a labor of love, and I don't mind at all.

I look forward to sharing pictures of the finished work!

Rules for Making Breakfast in an Under-Construction Kitchen:

~ First, enter kitchen, and feel the cool morning air that is seeping through the open windows and insulation-less roof. Go fetch a sweater.

~ Wash the table well to remove the dirt and grime that has settled on it during the night.

~ Wake up your strong younger brother, so he can move the stove back against the wall, so it can be plugged in.

~ Wash the burners on the stove. Burning drywall dust STINKS.

~ Go out to the living room and spend about five minutes locating all the ingredients and dishes you need to fry some eggs. (The eggs, of course, are in the refrigerator. The frying pan is under some dish towels on the love seat, and the oil is hidden behind the sack of potatoes.)

~ Ask your younger sister to locate the toaster, and bread, and start making toast.

~ Do not drop the oil on your way to the stove. (Explanation obvious. *grin* No, of course, I wouldn't do that!)

~ Do not crack eggs by tapping them against the edge of the table - especially if you forgot to wash the edges of the table, and they are still coated with gray drywall dust. Eggs+drywall dust= unappetizing.

~ When the food is ready to be eaten, make sure to wipe down all the places your family will be sitting, or else you will have....well, you know.

~ Enjoy your food.

~ Get back to work.

Oh yes, folks, we're having fun!

Monday, August 11, 2008

And so, the marathon begins...

Dad has a week off from work.

Of course, "off from work" is completely relative. In this case, it means the place where he works won't be seeing him for the said amount of time, but we will. That's about as off as you can get, right?

Actually, the challenge for this week is to redo the kitchen ceiling. And finish staining our back deck. And clean off the moss that has grown on our roof.

That's just Dad's list. Mom is working hard to finish painting around all our windows, outside. She enlisted my help today to repair the glaze around the glass panes.

Besides helping Mom and Dad, my own list of goals for this week include completing at least one sewing project (which I need by Friday!), teaching a sewing lesson tomorrow, and finishing the wood project that my brother Curtis and I have been working on since the beginning of June. It's a piece of kitchen furniture, originally planned as a surprise for Mom, but since her birthday was the second day in July...

...We've told her about it.

I'd really like to have it finished in time for it to take its place in the new kitchen.

We've taken lots of great pictures this week and last. But I haven't had time to load them onto the computer. Can you use your imagination to picture our house right now?

The kitchen has no ceiling. From that room, voices, and poundings, and crashes, and occasional "slams" testify to the fact that the last bits of drywall are finding the floor. A fine chalky dust covers everything in the kitchen.

The living room is packed to the bursting point with everything that was in the kitchen. Our chairs are outside on the deck, but all the small appliances and tables are squeezed into the living room. Everything that was on the kitchen counters is now covering every bit of available seating area in the living room, except for two chairs. As for floor can make it from the front door to the kitchen, if you can fit through a 2-foot walk space.

This morning I had to do laundry so I would have some work clothes to wear; it seems I've been wearing nothing else for four or five days. Everyone is in dirty denim or cotton clothing...except for my older sister, who I think would look and smell clean in the middle of a tar pit. :)

My little siblings' bare feet were splotched with red stain, last time I saw them, but right now they're all wearing work shoes that are covered with gray dust.Work clothes are the wardrobe of the week. I'm reminded of that verse in Nehemiah; "so neither I, nor my brethren, nor my servants, nor the men of the guard which followed me me, none of us put off our clothes, saving that everyone put them off for washing." *grin* Can't you picture the dirty crew?

The slow cooker is cooking away merrily in a bedroom, making our supper. Lunch was quite...interesting. Thankfully the outdoors is lovely right now; sunny, about 60*, with a slight breeze. If only it would rain! Our grass is dead. But God knows best. I guess we really don't need mud on top of drywall dust. I'm thankful for the balmy weather.

I've been thinking that lately I've been using my hands for fruit in ways that's aren't normally pictured as very "feminine." Tossing trash into dumpsters, sanding wood projects, handling screw drivers and saws, climbing ladders, and such have been parts of my life in the past week. And I don't mind. Hard work is fun. I'm still a girl. I'm not really very tomboyish; I've also found time to bake four loaves of bread, clean my bedroom, and work on a sewing project. But I like to be able to do all sorts of things. I've always been a Daddy's girl; I like to help him with projects. And I'm glad he lets me.

So, this week should be pretty fun.

...And dirty. :)

Saturday, August 9, 2008


I'm so surprised!

I've received a blog award from Meredith Ivy:

"Brillante Weblog;" sounds pretty cool, huh? Thank you, Meredith Ivy. You've encouraged me to keep trying to be a light for my Saviour in my tiny little corner of the web. Sometimes I wonder if I'm reaching any young ladies at all, but then one of you will drop a comment that simply makes my day, lets me know someone - at least - is being blessed, and gives me so much more back than I've given out.

I think the best part of all this is that I get to pass it on! I believe the rules are that I can give this award to seven other blogging friends.

So, I'd like to give this "Brillante Weblog" award to the following:

~ To Crystal, at Biblical Womanhood, for introducing me to blogs and blogging, and for being an encouragement to me in so many ways that she doesn't even know about.

~ To Sarah, at As Lilies Sewing, for blessing my soul with her posts, and for being so kind as to comment on here very often. :)

~ To Tammy, at Tammy's Recipes, for doing such a good job at upkeeping her blog consistently, for being real, and for recipes that work EVERY time! :)

~ To Bethany, at Bethany's Blog, for doing such a good job at tying together marvelous photography, words of wisdom, and spiritual encouragement.

~ To Ms. Nina, at Portugal Bound, for taking the time, as a busy missionary wife and mother, to let the rest of us know what it's really like to be serving the Lord in another country.

~ To my sister, Heather, at I Peter 5:7, for a heart that longs to reach others for Christ.

~ And to Kim at Life in a Shoe, because of her tongue-in-cheek style of writing that reminds me that all written work should contain a drop of humor.

I believe I can't pass the award backwards, Meredith, or I'd include you. :) Thanks once again!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Family and Friends

Today I am simply overflowing with the simple joys of having a family.

Friends are wonderful things. I've learned that more as I've become older. When I was younger, I was very shy (though talkative!) and, quite frankly, I wasn't a pleasant little girl. Christ's redeeming work of sanctification hadn't progressed very far in my heart, and I think it was because of this that I had very few friends. I was never one of the "in" crowd. To this day, I have a heart for the girls on the "outside," because I know exactly what that feels like.

I wouldn't say I'm on the "inside" now. ...It's just that I've become content where I am, and contentment gives a girl confidence to just be herself, and yet also be what Christ wants her to be - which certainly improves her personality and character, and that, in turn, opens the door to more friendships.

So, in my "older" years, though I still am not an amazingly wonderful, sweet, perfect girl, God has blessed me so much by giving me good friends. I've discovered what a wonderful thing it is to have true, loyal, kind, soul-lifting, Christ-like girl friends. A wonderful thing. It builds me up. It lifts Christ up. Iron sharpeneth iron. It's great.

But it's nothing like family.

There's something about siblings and parents. The bonds go beyond "friendship" in the ordinary sense of the word.

There is a freedom I enjoy with family that I will receive nowhere else. A freedom, not to be unkind or sloppy...but to be myself. And not that I am not myself with others...but...oh, I don't know. It's just different. You understand, don't you?

I know that sometimes friendships with peers, or other 'outside' people, can steal a young person's heart away from their family. Perhaps it makes them think they're family isn't 'cool,' when they contrast them with their friends. For some reason, this heart-stealing happens often when very young people make lots of outside friendships at an early age.

But God chose to bless me - in a way I didn't see as a blessing at the time - by withholding from me those close friendships I was seeking from my peers as a very young person. Instead, I formed bull-strong relationships with my siblings; friendships that are delicate, but not fragile. Friendships that were formed because we had no one else we liked better, and that are now maintained because we can't help but love one another.

Now, when God has blessed me with more relationships - with people outside my family - these friendships strengthen my bond with my family, instead of pulling it apart. I now know the depth of how much I can trust and depend on my family, and standing on their shoulders gives me strength to spring out into the world. Every new friendship I form only cements the old ones more in my heart.

And today I was busy forming a whole host of new friends, in a new place and arena. It was soooo much fun, and quite a blessing. My brothers were with me. I felt so secure, walking between them, discussing our new experiences.

Then I came home, and beheld the rest of my family. I felt like shouting "I love you guys! The world is beautiful, and you guys are wonderful, and I share this all with you!"

I will never, ever, ever claim the title of a "single." I'm not single, and I praise God for it! I've got a family!


Thursday, August 7, 2008


I have a nice little disease affecting me lately. It's called postphobia.

The symptoms are: lack of good posts, pictures, and updates.

The causes are numerous, including but not limited to: busy schedules, stress, no access to computers that can upload pictures (agh!), and little time for computer.

This blog has been on my mind a lot lately. I am concerned that the focus here continues to be honoring the Lord with the work of our hands. In my own life, I am thinking about that very thing quite a bit lately. I want to be so careful, that the goal of everything I do is to further His kingdom and bring Him glory. I don't just want to write about food, plants, fabric, and people. I want to write about Him. More specifically, I want to learn how physical things that I do and create can be used by Him and for Him. Of course, that topic takes in many things, including food, plants, fabric, and people. :)

Just so y'all know......I have been wanting to say this for awhile....Clarification: YES, I DO MORE THAN JUST SPEND TIME IN THE KITCHEN. I realize that many of my recent posts have been about kitchen things, and that is purely coincidental. I honestly do have a balanced life; it just so happens that kitchen things have been what I've been in the mood to write about. I apologize to those of you who want to hear about other things once in awhile. I have about half a dozen posts circling in my head; all about sewing, quilting, painting, instrument playing, singing, woodworking (honestly), gardening.....ahhhhh! I have to stop. It's so frustrating to not be able to type everything in one post. :)

Hey - wait. Can I just give a one-or-two sentence update on each subject? Would that be crazy?

~ Sewing: Okay, too broad a topic for the moment.

~ Quilting: Nope, can't talk about this one until I upload the pictures.

~ Painting: We've been painting the outside of our house this week. Sigh. I have pictures for that too,'ve guessed it! They're not uploaded.

~ Instrument playing: I've been inspired by Sarah to get out my fiddle again. I haven't touched it since getting my mandolin. Thanks, Sarah!

~ Singing: We had some lovely fun with another family this morning. A friend of ours offered to give our two families singing lessons. Between our two families, we have 12 children - quite a choir!

~ Woodworking: Pictures for this are also sitting on the camera, waiting to be uploaded.

~Gardening: My squash plants have officially died. I know; it's sad, isn't it? I have missed the squash so much this year. I still can't believe they didn't flourish; we usually have squash coming out our ears.

But our cucumbers produced well....which brings me to my next topic: the Relish Story.

Okay, so it's not that big of a deal, but I promised to share some pictures of the relish-making, and here they are:

I started with this little heap of shiny green cucumbers (or, as my little sisters say "raw pickles.")
Not a ton, but enough.

Here's a picture of my work station. I had this side of the table. In the top left corner, you can see a bit of corn cob. My mother and three youngest siblings were freezing corn while I was making relish. What a busy, noisy, happy kitchen!

Also, take a good look that that neat little gadget in the bottom right-hand corner. It's called a Bononzi chopper; Mom gave it to me as a gift last year, and it's so fascinating. This is what it makes:
Isn't it beauuuutiful, the way all the pieces are the same size? They weren't quite small enough to make real relish - it was more like tiny pickles - but it still tastes good.

This is cooking the mixture....

...And, can you believe it? I didn't get a picture of the end product! I did, however, learn one thing. Do not use wooden spoons to stir pickle brine. The acid in the vinegar will turn the wood a bright yellow. (See above photo for a comparison between a yellow spoon, and one that was not used for pickles.)

But then, what would a time in the kitchen be, without learning something?

I can't think of a good life-lesson to draw from relish-making, but I know I've personally been learning a lot lately about redeeming my time, and getting a lot done in one day. Relish was a part of that.


What have y'all been doing lately? Please forgive me for a rather crazy, hectic post, and tell me how life is out your way. I love hearing from each one of you SO much. It makes my day to get a comment. And I'm sure that what you have to say would be more interesting than yellow spoons! *grin*

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Well, folks... was one of those days.

This whole week has been so busy. I feel like a chicken running around with my head cut off. Or maybe a balloon that's been blown up and released without anyone tying the end in a knot. Ever watched one of those shoot all over the room, like a plane without a pilot?

~ We've been painting the shutters on our house. What a huge project! (More on that in another post)
~ I've a big wood project that I've been working on with my brother all summer that reeeeally needs to be finished.
~ There's food from the garden to preserve.
~ There's garden chores to be done.
~ I have sewing lessons to teach.
~ I have a bedroom to clean.
~ I have 2 CDs of messages that I've been meaning to listen to for over a week.
~ I had phone calls to make.
~ Errands to run.
~ Food to bake.
~ Dishes to wash.
~ Two urgent sewing projects. (Don't even ask about the un-urgent ones!)
~ So many books on my "to read" list that I don't know where to begin.
~ And ever so many other little things that make a day busy.

I suppose all this looks small on paper. (Uh, make that "on screen.") But to me, these aren't just words. These are things that I have to get done. Things that make me constantly think "okay, when am I going to get to that?"

It would all be much more bearable if I was in a good mood. But I'm in the dumps today. So even little things seem huge.

I'm thankful that it's 9:59pm. I've been ready for bed for 3 hours. But we were out late a church tonight, for prayer meeting and Bible study.

The topic?

Romans chapter 8 verse 28: "And we know that all things work together for good for them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose."

Thank you, Lord.

Burgers and Salad

Scene: Amber enters kitchen, pulls on her apron, looks around the kitchen and sighs. A busy day is mostly gone, and she can't wait for bedtime, but first she must make supper. Mom has assigned her to make potato salad, hamburgers, and tuna burgers. She already made the salad earlier in the day, and she knows how to make tuna-burgers, but hamburgers are a new thing in her kitchen skill list, and she's not sure where to begin.

Okay folks - can you see the setting? Today I wanted to bring you my "relish-making" story, but this one, which happened last night, was so much more interesting. Therefore I present to you the next story in an on-going series titled "Amber's Flops and Falls in the Kitchen, and What She's Learned From Them."

With no further ado:

Amber decides to make the tuna-burger mixture first, then let it sit while she prepares the hamburger. While she is working, she notices several little bugs flying around the kitchen, (it's summer, after all) and decides it will not be safe to leave the bowl of tuna unattended while she works on the hamburger.

"Hmmm....oh, of course. I'll stick it in the microwave."

After doing so, Amber opens the refrigerator to find the hamburger. "Say, Mom, is this the meat I'm supposed to use?" she calls to her mother.

Mom: "Yes, Dear."

The meat has been thawing for several hours, but still has ice crystals formed on the top. Somewhere in the back of her mind, Amber remembers her mother solving such a problem by thawing the meat the rest of the way in the microwave.

Out comes the tuna. In goes the hamburger. Five minutes should do it.

During those five minutes, Amber starts peeling the skins off some tomatoes that she boiled earlier, for use in spaghetti sauce. They have been sitting on the table for several minutes, and of course she'll be able to finish peeling them while making supper, right?

Amber: "This batch of tomatoes is peeling easier than the other one. That's good. Mmmm, that meat smells good. ...Wait a minute. Meat? Smells?"

Sure enough, the meat is done.


As in turning brown around the edges, and soaking in a nice pool of melted fat.

Fighting a sinking feeling in her stomach, because she senses that somehow this wasn't supposed to happen, Amber quickly stops the microwave with 15 seconds left to go, and takes the foam platter of hamburger to the table.

"Yikes!" Hot fat splashes out onto her hand.

Brother Dear (who is passing through the kitchen): "What's that?"

Amber (who is running to the sink for cold water): "That is hot fat. The meat cooked too long."

Brother Dear: "Oh." He continues on his way.

From that point on, the supper is doomed. Amber plugs in the griddle, so it will be thoroughly heated by the time she's ready to put the burgers on. It starts to smell burnt, so she turns it down to low, and adds just a wee bit of oil. The burgers will create their own fat, she's sure.

Dad strolls through the kitchen.

Amber: "Daddy, please help me. I have no idea what to put into hamburgers. Yours are always so good. What are your secret ingredients?"

Dad (with a grin): "Well, if I tell you, they won't be secret anymore."

Amber: "Please?"

After listing the ingredients, Dad continues on his way. Amber pulls open the refrigerator door, only to find....not a single one of the ingredients mentioned on Dad's list.

Amber: "Mom, don't we have any of this stuff?"

Mom (from the other room): "I'm sorry, Am, I didn't get any of them. I was just thinking of the basic hamburger ingredients. Try some salt and pepper, and ketchup."

Amber pulls out anything that looks good; ketchup, mustard, pepper, onions, Worcester sauce...

Meat that is slightly done does not mix well with other ingredients. Not the way raw meat does, anyway. Besides which, at this point the meat is still too hot to touch. Not to be stopped, Amber finds two forks, and mixes the meat with those.

The ketchup adds a nice red touch that the meat was lacking. Amber adds a few more squirts. Finally, she thinks she'd better start cooking the burgers. Though it's still warm, she can now form the meat into patties with her hands, which she does, then quickly drops them on the griddle.

Sure enough, the meat creates a little of its own fat to cook in.

A little.

The burgers just lack that nice moist texture burgers are supposed to have. It's as if they're already......cooked.

Mom passes by the kitchen doorway. "Be sure they cook all the way through!"

Amber: Gulp. "I will."

It's time to flip the burgers. Amber inserts the spatula under the first one, and flips it. When it hits the griddle, the worst happens.

It crumbles. Falls to pieces. Becomes un-hamburger-rized.

Amber works her way down the griddle. Every burger is flipped. Every burger crumbles. She now has a nice griddle-full of cooked ground beef.

Working quickly, she shovels the meat onto a plate, and shoves it into the microwave, out of sight. Then she begins to form the tuna into patties. This works much better. She looks at her griddle-full of nice, neat, pink burgers , and smiles with satisfaction. At least something's gone right.

Mother passes by the kitchen again, and sees that the hamburgers are no longer on the griddle. "Did they cook all the way?"

Amber: "They cooked all the way."

Mom: "Why do you say it like that?"

Amber: "Because they did."

Sister Dear passes through the kitchen."It smells like meatloaf out here."

Amber holds her breath and makes no comment. Sister Dear leaves the kitchen.

It's time to flip the tuna burgers. Amber begins to insert the spatula under the first burger. She is stopped. The spatula refuses to go underneath the burger.

Amber: "Why didn't anybody ever tell me you need to put on more oil in between loads of burgers?"

Fact: Tuna burgers are healthy. They do not create their own fat.

Fact: Tuna burgers that do not have enough oil between themselves and the griddle feel an uncontrollable compulsion to bond with the griddle.

Amber works her way down the griddle, prying the burgers loose - which, of course, really damages the appearance of the burgers - and flips them. The nicely cooked outsides of the burgers remain glued to the griddle. The nicely pink insides are left exposed on top. Of course this means Amber must flip them a third time, to cook the insides that weren't cooked before.

The only problem is that now the insides have become the outsides. ...Which mean they must be the ones to stick to the griddle.

After several times of flipping the burgers back and forth, Amber realizes that the burgers are getting thinner, and the layers of glued outsides on the griddle are becoming thicker. She therefore concludes it would be best to remove the burgers from the griddle, and ring the dinner bell.

Mom is the first person in the kitchen once the dinner bell has rung. She assists Amber in setting the table and getting condiments out of the refrigerator. Amber is so glad to see the potato salad come to the table. At least one item is eatable.

Mom: "Where are the burgers?"

Amber: "They're in the microwave. Couldn't we leave them in there, and just eat this?"

Mom laughs and opens the microwave door.

Supper passes with a lot of laughs, and a spatula to scoop the beef crumbles onto the burger buns. The tuna burgers aren't that bad at all.

Don't ask about the griddle.

Monday, August 4, 2008


Today is Monday.

If you've been one of my blog readers for a length of time, you know that I have volunteered myself to be the Crazy Monday Housekeeper at our home. "Crazy," because it's Monday, and I volunteered myself.

I hope we're not the only household that has a messy house at the end of Saturday and Sunday. It's really quite intimidating to wake up on a Monday morning. But I figured that if I can handle a messy kitchen on the worst day of the week, I can handle it anytime.

So that's how I spend my Monday mornings; doing dishes, sweeping floors, clearing counters, and doing some loads of laundry.

This may sound crazy, but in a way, I like Mondays. Not because I adore doing dishes and laundry, but I like the rhythmic secure feeling that comes from doing the same thing in the same order every Monday morning, week after week. Schedules are wonderful things.

Sadly, I'm not as good at keeping the other days of my week on such a consistent schedule. Partly because I'm lazy, and partly because they are not as predictable. But yesterday I decided to change that.

So, this morning, I took 30 minutes of my busy morning to type and print out blank schedule sheets that I designed on the computer. I will fill them in as soon as I get some time today. (Ironic, isn't it, that I must take time to schedule time?)

The reason for my sudden resolution was the following verses:

"For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light: (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. ...See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is." (Eph. 5:8-10&15-17)

"She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household...she girdeth her loins with strength...She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness..." (Proverbs 31)

I became very aware of many places in which I was wasting my time, and how my life could be lived, and how much more productive I could be. God has given me only a vapor of time! I must use it the best I can - not good, nor better, but BEST!

I DID IT!!!!!!

I did the thing homemakers have been trying to do for years.

The thing we all wanted to do, but could never quite manage.

We all wanted to prove that it happened, and we could never get the proof. But I now have proof, ladies, in the form of a wet, blackened piece of clothing.

I caught the laundry machine in the act.

I almost missed it. I was in such a hurry to shut the machine door and turn on the load cycle. But a dirty bit of white (make that gray) caught my eye.

"What is that?"

To be honest, it resembled a used tissue or hankie, all wet and scrunched up like that, so I wasn't crazy about touching it. But it was in that metal, rubber-lined trench between the door and the "bin" where everything gets washed. You know - the place the door seals. I wasn't sure if the door would shut properly with that thing there, so I shrugged, and picked the thing up with the tips of my fingers.

It came - and kept coming. It was much bigger than I had thought it was. That metal, rubber-lined trench had nothing under the rubber flap! Somehow this thing had been shoved under the little flap, and I had seen only the edge sticking out into the trench. If the thing had not been held there by the flap, it would have slipped into the large space in the washing machine under the bin. (Ever wonder what's in that large space? I have. What's in a washer machine besides the bin, anyway?)

But, getting back to the story: I pulled this long, wet, gray thing out of the hole into which it had almost fallen, and then I looked to see what it was. It wasn't a hankie.

It was a sock.

Then everything was suddenly very clear. I hadn't rescued this sock. I had captured it. Captured it in an open and obvious attempt to escape, and go where all other missing socks go.

You always knew laundry machines ate socks, didn't you? But you never could prove it.

Until now.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Random Ramblings

Do you ever get tired of spending time in front of a screen, or book, just reading about things?

That's me today. I'm sick of sitting still. It's not that I haven't been working in the garden, cooking, cleaning the yard, or running up and down stairs. It's just that I'm....well...I've got cabin fever or something.

So, I'm not going to do a very long post today. Fishing in my mind (and I don't need a very long fishing line to do that!), I can't come up with anything that sounds bright, studious, ingenious, or thought-provoking. All I'm thinking of is running, animals, sunshine, breezes, and people.

But I still need to clean the tub and toilet, and get some sewing done today. After that's done, I might migrate outside. Or I might spend the day in our workshop, sanding and staining our latest wood project. It really needs to be finished.

Okay. I can't think of anything else to write, so I'm going to end very abruptly, and wish y'all a wonderful day.