Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Return of the Squash

Hello, everyone!

After temporarily abandoning my blog, I'm back with an almost-too-easy post, to ease myself back into the swing of things. I have been uploading 3-camera-cards-worth of pictures onto my computer in the past couple of days, and the desire to share some of those with you has overcome my reluctance to blog. :)

This post shall simply be a recipe; an Amber recipe - and you know I only share recipes I'm proud of! (Well.... ones that I'm proud of, or ones that have stories behind them, or ones that involve a funny flop...you know. :)

I really can't take full credit for this recipe, because my sister Heather gave me the idea. She, like many people I know, has yellow summer squash and zucchini overflowing in her kitchen, and was looking for new and yummy ways to fix it.

Now, normally, our family has two options for squash: boil it, or fry it - but Heather said her new in-laws bake it, with some butter and garlic powder on top. She added mozzarella cheese.

Those are all the details she gave me; really! From that bit of a yummy idea, I went home and came up with the following zucchini bake:

Amber's (with some help) Zucchini Bake


~ Enough Zucchini to fill a food processor like the one below: (I think I used 3 zucchini the size of the one on the cutting board....or was it only 2? And yes, I KNOW you're not supposed to let the stuff get that big before you pick it, but it was hiding from us! You'd think it didn't want to be eaten! But that's the nice thing about this recipe - you can use the big zucchini that you forgot to pick in time, and it still tastes pretty good.)
The other ingredients are all pictured above as well:
~ 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
~ Garlic Powder
~ Italian Dressing
~ Grated Parmesan Cheese

What? Oh - why there are no measurements for the last 3 ingredients?

...Come on. This is an Amber Recipe! :) :)


Slice the zucchini finely in the food processor, or chop thinly by hand. Unwrap the butter stick and use the butter paper to lightly grease a 9"x13" pan - it doesn't need to be heavily greased. Divide the zucchini into thirds, and spread one third in a layer on the bottom of the 9"x13" pan. Slice the butter stick as thinly as you can, and divide the slices into three piles as well. Sprinkle 1/3 of the butter slices over the zucchini in the pan. Sprinkle to taste (I like it generous!) with garlic powder (NOT garlic salt, by the way!). Take the lid off your Italian dressing, and "gloop" it on - again, to taste. I've found that a little goes a long way. Just 4 or 5 "gloops" per layer seems to do the trick.

Now sprinkle Parmesan on generously. Did you hear me? Generously. This is what makes this dish kick!

Repeat these layers, starting with the zucchini again, then butter, garlic powder, dressing, and cheese. Repeat once more, if desired, and according to the amount of zucchini you have. The last time I did this recipe, I used three layers - as I've directed in this recipe - and it filled the 9"x13" pan to overflowing, but the first time I made this we only had enough zucchini to do one layer on a cookie sheet. You be the judge. You should finish with cheese on top - again, a nice thick layer.

Bake for 20 minutes - or until the cheese is nicely brown and smells heavenly - at 350 degrees.

Oh yes - one more squash idea, for those of you who prefer yellow squash over zucchini. Mom came up with this, and I LOVE it:

Squash spaghetti.


You just shred your yellow squash, add lots of meat and spaghetti sauce, bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees, and serve with grated Parmesan cheese on top. (Yes, we like our cheese!)

That's all I have for right now. Maybe there will be more pictures coming soon, on other topics.

Thanks for being so understanding about my blogging break; I needed it. I needed to confirm in my own mind that I blog because I like it and feel that it's good, not because I feel pressured to perform, or because I'm tied to this little grey keyboard and screen.

I hope y'all are having a blessed week.

P.S. I just realize I didn't rave about that zucchini recipe enough. You need to try it. There is no way to describe how good it smells as it bakes, and how tempting it is to just keep sneaking helping after helping of the cheesy, spicy goodness....

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Do you ever go through phases in your life when you feel really private? I do.

When I'm in one of those moods, I change from being a chatterbox and outgoing to waiting to talk until someone talks to me first. I listen more. I cry more. I usually feel sorry for myself more. Yet even my thoughts are quieter. I feel almost like my brain is walking in its sleep, if that makes any sense. I have a hard time writing, because writing is, after all, a form of communication, and I don't feel like communicating.

Well, that's not totally honest. I do want to communicate - I just want everybody to know what I'm thinking, without me going through the bother of telling them. And, when they can't perform that marvelous feat, I roll my eyes and decided it's perfectly hopeless to tell them anything.

I feel like I don't have anything to say; anything to add to the conversation. When I do think of something, somebody else says it first. I feel like a turtle, pulled into my shell, watching the world go by through the narrow slit in front. I do an awful lot of observing and listening. Then I feel hurt because nobody notices that I'm watching them.

Honestly - it's a bizarre mood to be in.

Some of the time, I'm not a private person. Nope. Not. At. All.

I am the terror of my mother, who wonders why I feel the need to live my life before the world. (And who will no doubt wonder why I wrote that.) I try not to be; really. For her sake, if for no other reason. But I really don't mind people knowing what I'm thinking; what are thoughts for, if not to be shared? I dream of being interviewed by someone - anyone - and having folks all over the world reading or hearing what I said.

But not when I get into these moods. Right now, the mere thought of telling someone what's going on in my mind makes me mad. I'll talk when I'm good and ready, thank you very much. (Of course, once this mood wears off and I'm dying to talk to someone, you'd better ask me how I'm doing.) Writing is a pain, except in journals and other private spheres (WHY, oh why, did I have to fill up my very last blank journal last month????)

It's the perfect mood for editing my writing. I can easily delete whole chunks of paragraphs that in other moments I would cringe at taking out. (Of course, there's always the temptation to just get rid of the whole book, which isn't so great a side-effect of this mood.)

But as far as blogs go, this mood has a devastating affect. Quite crippling, if you know what I mean. The mere fact that I have taken the trouble to write a blog post explaining why-I'm-not-writing-a-blog-post is a huge miracle in and of itself. Of course, you are missing out on about 3 paragraphs which I removed from or thought of but never typed out in this post, but what you don't read won't hurt you.

By the way, if you feel like you've been reading blog posts like this for quite awhile (interspersed by a few "I'm so busy!" and "Just a quick note!" posts) here on The Fruit Of Her Hands....

....I'm afraid you're right.

The thing to do is not consider these as non-posts, but actual posts, because they do fill you in on what's happening in my life, right? Instead of sighing and wishing I would get around to writing something interesting, please look at these posts as a sign that I'm a lot like the average human girl; I struggle with things. I don't think I really believe in "mid-life crisis" or "teen crisis," or all those theories about predictable struggles, (what? Life - predictable??) but I do believe we go through patches of different kinds of path on our journey. Remember Christian in "Pilgrim's Progress"? He covered all sorts of territory, from the enchanted ground, to Giant Despair's Castle, to the valley of the shadow of death, to Mt. Zion. And my pathway is leading through a time when I don't feel the urge to do much blogging.

I've thought about giving up blogging - specially when I see other girls, whose blogs I read, doing it. ...And especially when I don't get a response from what I do write. But I can't bear to. I like it here.

I like you. ...Ruth Ann, ....Sarah, ...Hannah, ...Alethea Jordan, ...Julia, ...Lulu, ...Amanda, ...Jessi, ...Kathryn, ...Sarah Jane, ...Barbara, ...Jenny P., ...Anna, ...Melanie, ...... and several others. :)

You see? I'm not just eating air when I say I know who you are and I love knowing you through the Internet. You're a blessing to me.

So I just want to say hello. Hello, and I hope you're having a blessed day. Did you remember that yesterday was the first day of summer? Isn't that exciting?! I celebrated by cutting two sprigs from our Rose of Sharon bushes and putting them in a vase on my bed-side bookshelf. They have rose and purple blooms, and make the whole room lovelier.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Joyfully Yours

Last night I had the pleasure of attending a baby shower, and the devotion time centered around the topic of joy. The lady doing the devotional took her thought from the verse in Psalms that says God makes the barren woman to rejoice, and be a joyful mother of children.


It got me thinking. Through all the talk of being a joyful mother in the midst of crying children, messy houses, frantic schedules, moody days, and spilled coffee on your favorite tablecloth, I saw how this verse applied to me as a single girl.

It's not just this verse. Countless verses in the Bible tell me to be joyful: "Rejoice in the LORD always, and again I say rejoice." "Make a joyful noise unto the Lord." "Serve the Lord with gladness." But I like this verse because it talks about a mother being joyful, and everybody knows that a mother's life - though crowned with the blessing of children - is full of the normal drudgery of everyday life. She has bad days. She has lots of work to do. She has many burdens. And she's supposed to be joyful.

Oh boy, did I see room for preaching in that verse! The Holy Spirit was creating a nice little message out of it, and directing the whole thing right into the center of my heart:

"Look at you! You don't have all the burdens of motherhood, but you deal with some of these same things; you have dirty dishes to wash, and a busy schedule to keep, and younger people depending on you, and rooms to clean, and a tub to wash. And are you joyful? Yes, I know you smile sometimes, and you sing sometimes while you wash dishes, but are you spilling over with that radiant joy that only I can give? Does laughter bubble up? Do you laugh very often? Are your eyes sparkling with love and life? Do you see My hand in things that go wrong? Do you trust Me to work it all out for the best eventually? Why do I see so much stress in your life?"

Ah, Lord, what questions!

You know, I would love to be that young lady who bubbles over with joy. How attractive - and how stress-free! A joyful person is a beautiful person...and how happy a joyful person must make the Lord! They are reflecting how wonderful a walk with Jesus is.

And yet, as I confessed to a friend once, "I feel like somebody needs to stress. I get worried if no one is stressing over things, so I it." Do you every feel that way? You'd like to be that storybook character who brings sunshine into every one's life.....but, hey, come on! real life is here. You have to worry about some things...right? How else will it all get done?

And so we are pressured to stay uptight. Don't relax completely. What? Trust God so much that you don't worry about anything? It's just not natural to be happy all the time. That's not allowed. It's... weird.

Last night I realized - again, and yet for the first time - that it's okay to be joyful. Really. So what if it's not natural, and so what if it feels scary to open my hands and let go? It's okay.


Go ahead. You know you want to. Laugh. Really hard. Sit still for a moment, in front of your computer screen....close your eyes, and let the tension melt away from your temples and forehead.

You didn't do it, did you? I'm serious. Do it.

Now open your eyes and smile. Really smile, a great big grin. Find someone nearby to turn to and let your eyes sparkle at them. Now laugh, a great big hearty laugh.

Doesn't it feel good? :) :) :) :)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

May we broach the subject one more time?

As a sequel to my last post, in regards to taking care of long hair, and coming up with new things to do with it, I thought I'd share a website that I have enjoyed browsing the past few months:

Rapunzel's Resource

It's an all-around great site for style ideas, for ladies with long hair.

....And, as I was doing a wee bit of browsing this morning, I stumbled across this site. I have not looked around much yet, so I don't know how good everything is, but the name caught my attention:

Long Hair Lovers

I also thought I'd list a few styles that I find myself using on a day-to-day basis. Sorry I don't have pictures! Wish I did. If you don't know what a particular style is, ask me, and I'll try to explain more - maybe even take a picture!

- The classic half-up, half-down (as Heather and I call it), with a clip or ponytail holder holding back the top and sides of my hair from my face. This is super easy, so I use it often, and it looks good on most people, but to be honest, I can't stand the way it looks on me. This is the style I was wearing the day I wrote my "rant." :)

- Simple ponytail. Oh - wait. I was going to list the styles I use everyday. Definitely not this one. My hair's too heavy to put hanging all in one spot like that.

- My old stand-by "twist into a bun and secure with three mini claw clips." I do this one all the time, and it's great for when I get out of the shower. Most of the time I don't make a true, smooth bun; I leave the curly ends loose, sticking around the edges of the bun. I like it.

- Flip-through ponytail. I do this one, because I love the way it looks, but often the hair that's hanging out gets too poofy, so I use it as a base for my next style:

- Flip-through bun. I wish I had a picture for this, because I love how it looks dressy but is super easy! It always makes me feel like I've done something extra special to my hair on a normal day. Just make the flip-through ponytail, and then tuck the hair that hangs down back into the hole where you made the flip. I've done variations; sometimes I let the ends hang back down through the hole, which makes people have a heart-attack, because at first glance from the front it looks like I cut my hair. :) Or I'll let the ends stick upright, spilling out of the "hole," all curly and pretty (unless they stick straight up!). Or I'll do a fold, with everything tucked in smooth, and no ends showing. Totally well explained, right?

- Hair parted in the center, and braided down the back in one braid. Usually a normal braid, sometimes a fish (or "herringbone") braid.

- Hair parted and braided on the side in two braids - normal or french. Usually normal, since it's faster and I'm not sure I like my face in french braids. Sad, because I love french braids themselves.

- Three-part bun. Another standby for fast-but-looks-like-I-spent-a-lot-of-time-on-it. Remember that "half-up, half-down" style that I don't like? I do that, but make that top section that's pulled back into a bun. Then I divide the rest of my hair in half, and twist each half around the bun, one at a time, using bobby pins to secure. It looks complicated and sophisticated, but doesn't take long. This is another style I wish I had pictures for. I made it up, too!!!! If I have a little more time, I'll braid the pieces before I loop them into the bun, (three braids total), and it looks like I have a mass of braided coils on my hair. (That's meant to be a flattering description of the style, just in case there's any doubt. :)

I'm sure there's a few more styles I use on a regular basis, but it's not too exciting to tell you about styles without pictures, so I'll end for now. Besides, I have to go teach a sewing lesson. Then I'm going riding. Should be fun!

Blessings on your day!