Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Absolutely the BEST way to eat garlic

Why am I eating garlic in the first place? Because there's an awful cold going around our house, and I want to boost my immune system. But this recipe was invented (by yours truly) several weeks prior to the entrance of this cold into our house, so I assure you that even if your family is perfectly healthy, you'll want to try this. I like garlic, but in this recipe I love garlic.

I am going to be perfectly modest and humble and not rave about how brilliant and how spur-of-the-moment and how easy this recipe is, nor say how much I like my own cooking. All I'll say is I'm copyrighting this recipe. You're free to make it, on one condition; every time you make it you must think of me. :) :) :)

...Ahem.

Oh yes; I should tell you what you'll be making. Its a dip of sorts. I made it as a filling to go in my homemade cheese ravioli, and saved half the bowl after making the pasta. I tried it for lunch on crackers and was sold. No more cheese-filled ravioli; this stuff doesn't make it into the noodles. I eat it all raw! ..If my sister Heather doesn't beat me to it. She likes this stuff too.

So, are you ready to try your own? Roll up your sleeves and get ready to pretend you are a scrumptious carefree cook who can throw this and that together and make it taste and look wonderful in mere seconds. When you add the herbs, be sure to flick your wrist just so, and always be sure to hum a merry tune while stirring the mixture together.

Proceed with the following steps:

#1 - Get out a package of cream cheese and let it soften until it's really soft. Like, stir-able soft. Or, if you're in a hurry, use the microwave. But don't heat the cheese so long it starts popping all over the place. It's a pain to clean microwaves. (Have I mentioned that I never have just "set the stuff out to soften," but have always used the microwave? I'm spur-of-the-moment like that. Sigh. Yes, I know the microwave isn't very healthy for you.)

#2 - Find yourself a bulb of garlic, hanging downstairs in the basement, still reeking with all the potency of last spring and summer. Proceed to decide how garlic-y you want your dip. I recommend about 8 cloves or more per package of cream cheese. Yeeeeeees this stuff is garlicy. And yummy!

#3 - Peel and rinse the cloves, then chop away. Mince, mince, mince, until it's all nice and soft and smelling strong. Use a really nice sharp knife, and the job will be loads of fun. I love to use good knives; it makes me feel like a professional cook. (Why do I keep talking about "cooking"? This whole recipe requires absolutely no stove top or oven!)

#4 - Collect your other flavorings; sweet basil, oregano, and onion powder. Break the sprig of oregano off the bunch of dried herbs that hangs on one side of the kitchen, and recall last fall. Dump the basil into the palm of your hand from the mason jar on the fridge, and enjoy the way your hands smell afterward. The onion powder....comes out of a plastic shaker, labeled "Great Value."

I can't give you exact measurements on these things...about three or four shakes of onion powder, one branch of dried oregano leaves, and a little pile of dried sweet basil leaves. Always more basil than oregano. The basil is the main flavor here (not counting garlic!), with the onion and oregano tying for second place.

#5 - Dump all the garlic and herbs into the softened cream cheese, and stir to combine.

That's it! Five easy steps. Spread this stuff on crackers, toast (the way I just had it), or anything that sounds good.

I tried to get a picture of this stuff...the first time I made it. Camera batteries died. I was gonna get a picture of it the next time I made it, and didn't. I could have taken a picture about 20 minutes ago....but I ate my toast up too fast.

It's that good.

Please, try it and let me know what you think. If you hate it, I'll write a post about how a person should never advertise their own recipes, because they'll sound incredibly biased. :)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Conversation during Family Bible Time...


Topic: The story of Esther

Part of story: All the maidens being gathered by the King and being given beauty treatments at the palace

Conversation:

One of my brothers: "...Can you imagine that many women in one place, all doing beauty treatments?"

My other brother: "Dude, that place would stink!"





Why is it that most boys don't like the smell of lotion, hair spray, or even perfume? ....*giggle*... I must admit that I don't like hair spray or perfume either!


Note: I realize this is a random post, but I thought maybe it would make you smile too. Let's hear it for brothers who keep us smiling!

Monday, March 29, 2010

A pleasant surprise

I've always felt like my blog readers are an extended circle of friends.

Sometimes I've mentioned that I wish I could meet each of you in person. I somehow know that you'd be just as wonderful and lovely in person as you are online.

But though I wish it, in reality it hasn't happened very often. Some of you I knew in person before I ever started a blog. One of you I met afterward. :)

And two of you I met yesterday.

Imagine, dear readers, that you pull into your old familiar church parking lot for Sunday school, and spy an unfamiliar vehicle. The sky is gray, rain threatens, the day is gloomy and sleepy, but you don't feel ready to be gloomy - 'specially when you see that van. Your heart leaps in excitement. As a family who absolutely loves visitors, everyone in your own van immediately starts discussing whether someone in the congregation has bought a new van, or could it really and truly be some visitors?

But you know right away it's visitors, and you can't help smiling with eagerness. It's a van, which indicates a family rather than a couple or single, and it has a bible reference for the license plate numbers, which indicates they are outspoken for Christ. You can hardly get out of the van fast enough, but you slow yourself and tell yourself, "don't get too excited. It might just be that someone at church has bought a new van. ...Or maybe it's a visiting preacher."

Not that I don't love it when we have visiting speakers...but, though I didn't admit it to myself, I was dying to meet a new family.

By the time we entered church I was convinced that I was going to be disappointed. Then I saw an unfamiliar man talking with our Pastor. I felt better, right away, though a tiny part of me was sad that there would be no new young people to meet.

I deposited my fiddle (which always comes with me to church) in the practicing room at the back of our church, hung up my coat at the coat rack, and walked in the usual fashion into the sanctuary.

There was a new family sitting there! Oh joy! Church fellowship for the day would be all the sweeter.

My sister, Heather, was already talking with the two young ladies in the family, and as I came and sat down I got to meet them as well. Hannah and Sarah. We had barley finished the first "hi, how are you"s when one of them said "...and we read your blog."

I nearly fell over backwards. These darling young women read my blog!

As the talk progressed, I learned that the Girotti Family was simply visiting for the day, and lived several hours away, but I still couldn't get over the fact that they knew who I was. After they told me a little more about themselves, I recognized the girls' names as two of my sweet commentors. I can't say how splendid it was to meet them in person.

I was refreshed by our visit together, and wish it could have been twice - no, three times - as long. I think God knew I needed their visit, and sent them just to bless me. :)

So, ladies, don't give up - when you make friends over a distance, and think you'll never have the pleasure of meeting them....well, you just might!

Monday, March 22, 2010

On a day like today...

...When I can feel my dad's chuckle in the other room, by the low vibrations in the air....

...When my brother tells a new riddle at the supper table...

...When my parents and I work side-by-side in the garden...

...When I hear the laughter of my siblings and the good-natured teasing as they play hard in the yard behind me...

...When my older sister looks at me across the table and there's laughter in her eyes...

...Or when she's passing through the kitchen as I wash dishes, and I'm singing, and she stops to join in...

...Or when my brother is practicing guitar and he and I sing a new song together...

...Or when my younger sister wants to talk about the day...

...When the backyard breeze that ruffles my hair is as familiar as the ground I tread...

...Or when we laugh as three of us try to squeeze into the same seat when we're hanging out together in the living room after supper...

...Or when we pray together before bedtime...


...On days like today, I'm so glad to be home.

I promised!

I told you I had "real" sewing post coming up soon, so here I am. :)

My sewing area has been in upheaval ever since my sister announced her engagement. I think that in February I spent an average of 30 hours a week sewing, cutting, pinning, and ironing. That's not quite a full-time job, but it felt like it. Many times I told myself "I'm so glad I love sewing!" Otherwise, the month could have felt much longer.

I'm still tackling wedding sewing projects, though I'm beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I can't wait to take the time to organize and clean my sewing area! Right now it looks something like this:




Quite a mess, isn't it? Though, I admit, it has been worse. I didn't take a picture of my other table, to the left of this one. That one is piled high with projects that have been put on hold.

This week I was starting to get really tired of seeing those projects sit there and pile up, so I decided to forget about wedding sewing for a little bit and make some head-way on my other projects. It felt nice to sew something different....almost like a vacation. :)

I only took the time to make one shirt. It took me 4 hours, (not all at once; on two different days) and I'm happy with the result. I'd been designing this shirt in my mind for weeks (mostly while I was working on wedding stuff!), and it was great to actually make it. Maybe now I'll be patient enough to finish those last few wedding projects before I sew on my other stuff.

(Just a side note, lest any of you think I'm unhappy with all the wedding sewing; I'm honored that Heather is letting me do it! I'm happy. ...But even the best of us can get sick of doing something we love, so a break was nice. :)

I designed this shirt myself, but I "cheated" by starting out with the very shirt that inspired me; an old t-shirt in the most beauuuutiful shade of green:

Please pardon the wrinkles in the shirt, and the background mess. But you are free to admire the window frame behind my dress form; I sponge painted that myself. Doesn't it look nice?

Oh - and one more side note (I know, I'm awful at getting off the topic!): I think this is my first "finished" picture of my dress form. Last time I showed it, I hadn't made the white cotton cover, or the pincushion to go in the neck. I LOVE having a dress form - and my exact size, to boot! I named her Dorcas. :)

Anyway, back to my shirt.

I began by removing the sleeves with a seam ripper. (I think that's the only time I used it on this project; yay!) I wanted sleeves on my finished shirt, but only short "cap" type sleeves. The sleeve seams on the original shirt hung over my shoulders, so I decided to a kimo-seamless-style sleeve.

Then I created side seams, so I could shrink the shirt. I didn't want skin-tight, of course, but as-is it was rather baggy. It took a little playing around to get it right, but it turned out pretty close to perfect. (Sorry I don't have pictures of all this!)

That took care of everything except for the neck. I began with the idea of removing the (in my mind) un-feminine neck ribbing, but decided instead to cut it to half the width, and flip it under to give me some nice body to my neck line seam. (Is this making sense?)

After cutting it, however, I came up with the idea to serge the raw edge, and flip it out instead of in, to give me a little ruffle around the neck. I'm glad I did. It now looks like it was made that way!

Then came my favorite part, though it was the longest and most complicated in the end. I think it took about 2.5 hours.

Using one of the sleeves I had removed, a pencil, an empty spool of thread, and a pair of scissors, I traced 49 little circles on the fabric, and cut them out. Then I zig-zag stitched around their edges and began to connect them in clusters of 3, 5, and 2:




This was much harder than it sounds. My sewing machine wanted to keep "eating" these small circles while I was trying to zig-zag around the edges and sew them together. I wasted about 6 circles before I began to get the hang of it, and even then many of my "clusters" were far from perfect. In fact, I think only one turned out perfect.

Then came the fun part. I played around with arranging my "flowers" around the neckline of the shirt. When I had a look I liked, I tacked everything in place by hand.

Wala! A decorated T-shirt!

From This:



To This:




I wore it on Saturday, and love it. One thing I might do differently next time is make the sleeves an inch or two longer, but that's about it. All the petals held up well in the washing. When I first tacked them down they looked rather flattened, but a good washing make them all nice and curly again. My favorite part of the shirt is the color. It's vibrant and sunshine-y. It makes me feel happy!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A long tale, in which I fly.

Mom asked me this morning what my plans for the day were.

I listed off the items on my "To Do" list; sewing, updating our website, perhaps taking a walk, wishing I could bake,"...and writing a short blog post, if I can think of something interesting," I added. "I think my readers are tired of hearing about wedding sewing and gardening."

Writing a blog post wasn't the most important thing in my mind today. I had other things to keep me busy. Ordinary, simple, un-exciting-to-anyone-but-me things. I didn't have much to write about, and I felt fresh out of ideas for new posts.

But now, at the end of my day, I have a story to tell, and I need a place to tell it. I could write it in my journal...but I'd much rather use it as a blog post. :)

To begin, I must back up and give you some background so you'll understand my story.

First of all, I must tell you that I take horse riding lessons. It's a fairly new thing in my life - I've only been taking for about 6 months. There's a long story behind my lessons. I wanted to ride horses all my life, but never could afford the time or money to do it. I dreamed all the little girl dreams of having my own horse. God finally taught me to surrender that dream to Him and, then, about two years ago, my brothers and I were able to volunteer at a barn nearby. We were "around horses!" I was thrilled. I never dreamed that God had something even better in store for me; taking lessons at a privately-owned bit of pasture heaven a year and a half later. I have neither time nor space to give you all the details, but what I've just told you is the short version of how I came to have riding lessons. God provided, and that's the only way to explain it. First I had to learn to give it up, and then He gave it to me as a gift.

...But I'm getting off the topic.

A horse-loving friend once asked me "why don't you ever post about your riding on your blog?" I replied "because I want to keep it kinda private and special." And that's true. I also didn't think riding went very well with the theme of "The Fruit of Her Hands." Besides, ...my riding is nothing glamorous. In 6 months I've only been able to have about 7 lessons, and I haven't progressed very fast, though I have the most wonderful sweet Christian lady as a teacher, and sweetheart horses to learn on.

But today I went a little farther in my "progression" as a rider. I had an experience. And that's what my blog post is going to be about tonight. Are you ready?

This afternoon was a beautiful time to ride. The weather was glorious; a bright blue sky, the faintest puff of a breeze, and balmy temperatures. I got to the farm a little early, and my teacher and I chatted as we stood at the edge of the coral and waited for other students to arrive. We watched the horses roll on their backs, and she pointed out to me the one I'd be riding; his name was Mannie. (I hope I'm spelling it right!)

Mannie was tall, but looked easy-going, and my teacher assured me he was "a sweetheart." She uses him with children and beginning riders, and she said he's not lazy, but not too lively either. Perfect. I hate kicking lazy horses, but I don't want to be run away with, either.

As a groomed Mannie and tacked up, I spoke quietly to him and rubbed and patted and did everything I knew to let him know I wanted to be friends. He responded politely, like a good lesson horse, though he appeared a bit bored with me. He relaxed as I groomed, cocking one back hoof and heaving several long sighs. I was happy with my mount.

Once we entered the ring and I was up on his back, I was even more pleased. He responded well to the reins and I directed him easily. I thought to myself that he was one of those horses that makes any rider look good. After walking for awhile and getting used to Mannie, I urged him into a trot. He has a lovely trot! So smooth, just like a rocking chair.

The lesson was lots of fun. We practiced directing our mounts while going at a trot. We weaved around barrels and circled the ring many times. Some of the more advanced riders cantered. I've cantered a few times, but don't feel very comfortable with it yet. It feels so much faster than it is!

But I was pleased with my trotting. I mean Mannie's trotting, of course. He went the perfect speed. After awhile he seemed to be getting a little lazy, and wouldn't keep trotting unless I used my heels, but I knew he wasn't worn out yet; just a little stubborn. He's been in the pasture all winter!

These lesson horses all have amazing clocks built into them. They know exactly when the lesson time is up. Today we went a little over-time, and Mannie knew it. He kept getting more and more reluctant to trot. Finally, when we were on the side of the corral alongside the gate, he refused to leave the fence. He stared at the barn. He stood stubbornly still, and did everything he could to say he was done.

My personality is one that naturally has pity on animals, and I didn't want to kick my mount, but I knew my teacher would say that a good rider must be in charge. I must be the one to decide the lesson was over, not Mannie. It wouldn't kill him to walk one more time around the corral. I did everything I could think of. I kicked. And kicked. He would walk if I directed him in a circle, but he wouldn't leave the immediate area of the gate. He wanted out. The other horses walked, cantered, or trotted by, and I continued to work on being the boss.

"Okay, Amber, let's do one canter before you finish for today," my teacher said. She smiled over at me. "You haven't cantered him yet, have you?"

"No, I haven't."

She proceeded to remind me how to ask for a canter, and told me to "go ahead." With all the power in my heels and hands, I asked Mannie for a walk.

He moved! We progressed down the first side of the corral away from the gate. As soon as we got going well, I cued him for a trot, intending to move up to a canter. He grudgingly moved into a trot, but refused to stay near the fence. Instead, he moved sideways as he trotted, heading toward the center of the ring. I struggled to get him back to the edge of the corral, where we were supposed to be.

Looking back, I don't remember if I cued him for a canter or not. Maybe I kicked him. Maybe I didn't. But suddenly Mannie didn't want to be a sweetheart.

I felt him bunching up underneath me, and I knew he was either going to run or give me a little buck.

He did neither. He gave me a big buck.

I tried to remember to keep my heels down, to cement my seat to the saddle, but as I came up and slammed back down into the saddle, I knew my heels weren't down. Before I could fix that, Mannie bucked again - harder, this time.

As I came up in the air my feet left the stirrups completely. I landed back in the saddle again. Hard. Really heard. I felt my neck snap forward and then back, and I suddenly was seeing the world through a gray fog. My feet were no longer touching anything solid, and there was no way to keep myself from bouncing with every movement of the horse. I think the reins were still in my right hand fingers, but my left hand was grabbing the saddle horn, and I fumbled to get my right hand in the same place. With another bounce, I lost my grip on the reins as I tried to grab the horn.

I was leaning very far forward. It's impossible not to when your horse is moving fast and your feet aren't in the stirrups. Somewhere far away I could hear people calling, or screaming. I heard Mannie's feet on the gravel. I saw his flying mane - such a soft brown color, though it feels scraggly with its winter roughness. It was all I could see; his neck, that mane, the purple reins, his ears. As I was thrown farther forward, I couldn't keep a hold on the horn. I remember that I reached out to grab for his mane, then thought how it must hurt to be grabbed by the hair like that. My hands were already reaching out, but without a horn in reach, or the will to grab Mannie's mane, they held only air.

I saw the side of Mannie's neck and head. I looked down and saw gravel rushing toward me. Somehow all the tiny stones blurred in my vision and made me sleepy. I was already sleepy, with the gray fog that was around me.

"I'm going to fall off. I am falling off. I always wondered what it'd be like." It's amazing how fast thoughts can go through our brains.

I hit the gravel.

My neck hurt again. I know I landed on my right shoulder and left wrist. I know my feet must have been the last thing to hit the ground. But the next thing I remember is sitting on the ground, hunched over and curled up. My eyes were scrunched tight, but I could still see gray. It danced through my head, with tiny specks of color.

I heard Mannie's feet, trotting away from me. I heard my teacher's feet, farther away, running toward me. But though I heard, I didn't register. All I could think about at the moment was my body.

"Don't think too hard. Don't cry. Don't open your eyes. Don't move. Pretend it doesn't hurt, and it will go away. Pretend it doesn't hurt and it will go away. Pretend it doesn't hurt and it will go away."

I was incredibly reluctant to open my eyes. It was like a rainy morning when you want to roll over and go back to sleep. I didn't want to move. I didn't want to so much as flick my eyes open. I wanted to lay down and go to sleep. My head hurt in exactly the same way it does when I'm really really tired. I think I was breathing hard but I don't remember.

I felt my teacher's hand on my shoulder. I know she asked me something along the lines of "are you alright?" It registered in my mind then, but I can't recall the exact words now. She took my helmet off and I think she asked about broken bones. I think I joked about not dismounting very gracefully.

I was starting to feel the rest of my body and I realized my right shoulder and left wrist were throbbing, but I instinctively moved to rub them, so I knew they couldn't be broken or hurt too badly. Teacher's husband arrived then and also wanted to be sure I was alright. I asked to just sit still for a minute and pull myself together. I pulled my knees up to my chin and took some deep breaths. Teacher was talking the whole time, calming my nerves and assuring me it wasn't my fault and asking again if I was alright.

I felt tears coming behind my eyes, but wanted nothing less than to cry at that moment. I felt undignified enough as it was. Even though I was hurting, the tears came more from my fright than the hurt. I was trembling inside. I wasn't afraid of Mannie; I looked behind me to see where he was. I knew I wasn't hurt badly, so I wasn't afraid of that. I guess it was just the whole adrenalin rush thing.

When I was finally helped to my feet and walked across the corral to where everyone had stopped their horses and was watching with concern, I felt a strange mixture of embarrassment and thankfulness for their kindness. One of the more advanced riders was holding Mannie's reins, and asked our teacher "do you want me to get on Mannie and give him an attitude adjustment?"

So I stood at one end of the corral and held her horse, while she took Mannie for a ride. The girls all sat on their mounts and made comments like "Look how he's swishing his tail! He sure isn't happy." "No, but she'll make him mind." "There he goes." "That was a good canter." "Yeah, but look at his swagger; he's knows he's been bad."

The horse I held nudged me with his nose and licked my hands. "Aw, look; he's consoling you," the girls laughed. I smiled. He was awfully sweet to me. I was still fighting to get my composure back, and my shoulder was starting to feel like it was on fire.

"Are you still feeling that adrenalin rush?" one of the girls asked.

I laughed uneasily. "Yeeess."

"Well, the way you landed, you're lucky to be still standing."

"The Lord was taking care of her," my teacher said.

"He sure was," I agreed. I tried to think of something more to say, to witness for Jesus, but I couldn't think of anything marvelous.

When Mannie returned to our end of the corral he seemed quieter. I held his reins for a moment while our teacher talked to some of the other students, and when no one was looking he licked my hand.

"Trying to make up, are you?" I laughed quietly. I wasn't upset with him.

We walked back to the barn, and I began to untack Mannie. I was fighting tears again; this time from pain. I knew I wasn't hurt seriously, so I didn't want anyone to see me crying. I was so glad when my kind teacher took the heavy saddle off for me.

I brushed Mannie down, and then Teacher put some ointment on his hooves, since he's fighting thrush. He acted up for her when she was cleaning his feet, so I guess he still hadn't settled down all the way. After feeding him his usual treat, she turned him loose into his stall.

My teacher asked me once more if my shoulder was fine, and made me move it around so she could see nothing was broken. I assured her I was fine. The other girls gave me advice on what to do "when you're sore tomorrow."

"Are you coming back?" my teacher asked, just to be sure.

"Oh yes!" I smiled. I didn't want her to think I was giving up. I can't wait to go back next time!

The drive home was too long. My hand and shoulder screamed each time I turned the steering wheel. I was still shook up from the experience, and couldn't seem to calm down. All I could think about was going home and getting some ice for my shoulder.

All evening I have continued to be sore, but I took a soak in the tub which really helped me to relax, and even helped the hurting some. It's been a looooong time since I soaked in the tub, and I felt quite leisurely. I know I'm gonna be sore tomorrow, but....like I said, it's an experience.

Well, this has been a long tale, and I hope you haven't been bored. I told Mom a while ago that "it was actually kinda fun; exciting, anyway." If I could fly through the air like that again without jarring my head, I think I would. I liked the flying sensation. ....But not quite so much the landing sensation. :)

I still think that horse-riding tales don't fit the theme of this blog, but y'all feel so much like friends that I always want to share my daily adventures with you. I have a real blog post coming up soon, with a sewing project to show (NON wedding related. :) I can't wait to show you!

I'm sitting here trying to think of a lesson to be learned from my experience. I always like to look for that. I'm a little to tired to come up with one, so maybe you can help me. In any case, I hope you all have a had a lovely day, and perhaps a day filled with excitement. I know I have. :)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Now I REALLY know spring is coming.

I did my first planting today!

Dad has been planting things for weeks now; the marigolds are budding, and our tomato plants, under grow-lights in the basement, are nearing a foot in height. But I have remained an observer and water-er and light-turner-on-er until today. Today I planted something myself!

I planted 144 cells; 36 sweet basil, 36 balsam flowers, 36 moss roses, and 36 African daisies. All of these flowers are new to me. I've grown sweet basil before, but never successfully from seed. I always "cheated" by getting transplants from the store when my starting-from-seed attempts flopped. (Of course, using seeds that were several years old just might have had something to do with my lack of success...) And all the flowers are ones that I've never grown before. I'm planning to grown bachelor's buttons (I've tried that one before, with Dollar Store seeds that didn't do very well) and....oh boy, what's that other one?....well, anyway, another flower. Oh yes - mixed wild flowers for cutting. And Zinnias. I still have to buy those seeds, but after last year's success with them, I know I want to grow them again! (6' high instead of the package's predicted 3'-4'!) But those three kinds of flowers grown better if they're sown directly in the ground outside after all danger of frost is past, so I'm waiting on those.

My heart is jumping up and down as I picture what our home will look like with all our bare flower beds overflowing with color this spring. I'm usually more of a vegetable grower than a flower planter, but Dad bought the seeds for me this year, and since there wasn't any vegetable planting to do today, and I was in the mood to plant, ...wala! Planted flower seeds!

We have flower beds on every side of our house, but there's never been a year (in my memory) when they have all been filled. Buying that many transplants from a nursery would have cost half a fortune, and none of us ever took the time to plant that many flowers from seeds. If it wasn't for the scattering of perennials in our beds, we might never have any blooms around our house!

And yet we all love it when the beds are full and looking pretty. So maybe this year will be beautiful! With 108 transplants, plus more seeds for direct sowing, we ought to have plenty of flowers! And if we have too many, Dad plans to sell the extras in his gardening business. So either way we can't lose. :)

The seeds will sprout at different times, but by the end of two and a half weeks or so, they all ought to be up. I can't wait!

What about you? Are you getting ready for spring? Started any seeds yet? Or are you still pouring over seeds catalogs in your area of the country? Trying something new this year, or sticking with old favorites? First-time gardener or long-time lover? I'd love to hear about what your gardening plans are!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Get Away

I just want to say that I was able to spend a lot of extra time in prayer and in God's Word today, and I was reminded how marvelous it is to have a clean slate and to have long conversations with the One I love, and release all the stress and friction and guilt that comes from continuous "putting-off" of those quiet times with the Lord.

I'm not talking about the routine morning devotion time. I'm talking about those special "get alone" times that are longer and deeper, somehow. It's like when a married couple goes away for the weekend to a romantic place far away, and focus on nothing but each other for all of two or three days. Sure, they love one another and pay attention to one another during all the normal day-to-day living, but there's something special about a "get away."

I only discovered the loveliness of those "get aways" recently....or so it seems. In reality, I guess it's been several years, but the time seems short.

Just like the husband is the one who springs the occasion on his wife, so it was with me and my Lord. I didn't come up with the idea to all-of-the-sudden do this. He was the One who taught me about these "get aways." He sent an invitation into my heart, and I thought "yeah, that sounds nice." After the first one, I was left ecstatic. I thought it would last me a long time.

But it didn't. It wasn't long at all before I was hankering for another time alone with Him. I mean a long time alone. Without distractions. (There's so many of those, ya know?)

So they've become a habit. ....Sorta. You see, He's always the One sending the invitation, and sometimes I respond with a "yes, I'd love to!" and sometimes I say "I'm kinda busy right now; can You check back later?"

Yes, even with my dear, kind, Lord, I find it in me to turn Him down. What am I thinking? He's so kind to be constantly inviting me, and yet I will often put off the meeting. Then, when I'm having my normal morning reading time, I have the gall to ask Him to "give me something for the day" or "speak to me in a special way"...when I'm not willing to do what He's been asking me to do! This reminds me of the Song of Solomon. The bridegroom, knocking on the door...the maiden refusing to open...and then when she regrets her words and goes to the door, He's no longer there, so she has to go seeking Him.

I spent a good part of last week and the weekend doing some half-hearted seeking and feeling sorry for myself that I had to do it. I was pretty miserable.

This afternoon I had some "forced" (unplanned) time by myself in a quiet room, away from distractions...for about an hour and a half or so. Guess what? I sought with a full heart.

And - ahhhhh - He was found of me! The rest of today has been wonderful. Nothing spectacular has happened...I just have that closeness back. ...Which is...spectacular.

When was the last time you had a "get-away" with your Saviour? When was the last time you set aside a good length of time to just talk? I had forgotten how marvelous it is, and I want to remind you, in case you've forgotten too;

It's splendid.

Monday, March 8, 2010

My First Vlog!

Is it "Vlog" or "V-log"? I don't know which - all I know is that I wanted to do one. I still sorta do. I'm still sorta glad I'm posting my first one. If I could just get over being mad at my computer.

Note: I wrote this post yesterday, but my computer was being finicky (still) and I just turned the thing off without publishing the post. But today has been love-e-lee, and I think I've got my stock of patience restored, so I decided to try again. Hence you get to enjoy this post a day late. :))

It's been one of those days.

I hate spending all day on the computer. What I hate even more is spending all day on the computer and not getting anywhere.

Don't worry; I didn't spend all day working on a blog post. That was only one of many things I was trying to do on the computer today.

(Notice all the italics and bold lettering? I must still be mad. Sorry.)

On Saturday I recorded my Vlog clips, and spent several hours in the afternoon playing around with them on the video-making program on my computer. I love that thing (the program, not the computer, remember?) I had such fun, adding music, cutting and editing what we had filmed, adding photos, special effects, ...even title and credits! I could do that for a living, ...I think. :)

There's only one problem. I should have known; it happens every time I design a video with this program. It turns out great, but when I try to save it, the format it saves in is....really strange. So strange that no other program can play the video. Not even Windows Media player.

And not even Blogger.

You know what this is leading to.

Yup; I can't upload the video!

Soooo, I'm offering you the very basic clips; un-edited, without music, and certainly no title and credits. Sigh. Just plain old me.

You know what else I did that makes me mad? I uploaded these videos backwards. It comes in two parts, and part 2 is on top. Make sure you watch the last one first. Make sense?


video


video


And because it's against my principles to leave my readers feeling as discouraged as I do, I refuse to end on a sour note. Computers are, after all, only machines. And frustrations and bad days are just that; "light afflictions," as the apostle Paul would call them. They don't compare with eternity! Time spent in God's Word does wonders for a bad day. I'm so glad He never changes! Let's praise Him!

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Refrain

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.

Refrain

When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings. Wealth can never buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.

Refrain

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Longing.

I had one of those moments tonight; one of those seconds in time when you see something you knew before, yet never saw or thought deeply about.

I really did know it. So why did the thought come upon me as if I had never thought it before?

Here was the thought: in Heaven, I shall have a personal conversation with Jesus. Many personal conversations with Him. I shall have all eternity to talk with Him.

I've talked about "having a talk with Jesus someday." I look forward with great longing to seeing Him face to face. I ache for the time when this mortal body will be finished, and I'll have eternity to spend in the presence of Jehovah. I can't wait to see my Lord with my very eyes.

But I guess I always thought of Heaven as a bit impersonal. It's gonna be rather crowded you know; people from all the ages filling those golden streets. I knew I would see Christ, in His glorified body, and God the Father on His throne. But, without realizing that I was doing it, I pictured it like one of those rallies or events where an important person is speaking.

You know the type of gathering I mean. The VIP speaks for an hour or so, and all the listeners hang on his every word. Every person their and his brother is longing to talk with the speaker afterward. They line up to by his book and get it autographed. Perhaps to shake his hand.

You buy the book too, but you glance at the long line in front of the book-signing table, and sigh. What's the use? Sure, you could spend 20 minutes in line, but all for a brief moment. You'd be only one more face, one more hand to shake. Perhaps if you wait until the crowd dies down...

The evening is growing late, and the windows black with night by the time the crowd starts to disperse. You have hung around, fidgeting, waiting for him to be done. But now you see others had the same idea. That last man in line at the book-signing table realizes he is last, and takes advantage of that fact. He let others go in front of him so he could be last. Now he wants to talk with this important, wise, famous man. They start up a conversation about serious, big issues. You know they will talk for a long time. Biting your lip, you turn to go, into the cold outdoors, find your colder car, and ride home quietly.

I could picture Heaven, with the crowd. A crowd full of people wanting to see Jesus. Everyone wants to talk with Him, to soak Him up, after waiting for years, and years, and years to be with Him. I could already feel that lonesome feeling in the bottom of my heart; that turning-away-empty-handed feeling. I would never get my turn. I'd spend eternity on the outskirts, like always. Always longing, never getting. Always wishing, never receiving. Always just one more face, one more handshake. Not really too important.

Then it dawned on me tonight. I mean really dawned on me. The thing I knew before but never thought about.

I'm gonna get a personal conversation with Jesus; complete with all the facial expressions, tone of voice, and embraces that I can't receive when He talks to my heart here on earth. I'll get Him all to myself. I've got ETERNITY to "wait my turn" (if there's such a thing as waiting in Heaven). I never have to go home. It doesn't get dark. It doesn't get late. He'll be there. He'll know my name. He'll be just like He is now; warm, personal, my best friend, ...intimate. He is my Beloved now, and He'll be that even more so then. This is no VIP I'm going to see....this is my Bridegroom.

Oh boy....I can't wait!!!!!!!!!!