Saturday, April 26, 2008
All Because People Fell in Love
I'd intended to do a wonderful post about all the off-the-charts sweet things happening around here. And they are. But I.T. I.S. I.N.S.A.N.E. around here, we're all getting not enough sleep, beds don't get made, laundry all over the place, the basement looks like Toys 'R Us blew up, and we've lost kids and dogs now and then throughout the week too. A well-oiled machine we're not!

But it's been more fun than I can even tell you, we've had completely precious moments. And hysterical ones. And laugh til we cry moments. We've cleaned the fridge out, twice. The trash smells like diapers - that'll surprise the trash guy! Both bins are full, and we generally win the prize for least trash every week. So we're maxed out here, and by the time I get home from Mexico I'll forget the details. So trust me, it's been fun and crazy and exhausting and frustrating and hysterical - you know, just like any holiday you spend with your family, when six adults and four babies share the house or try to go anywhere and it takes two cars to haul all the kid paraphenalia and I have no clue if that's spelled right but finding a dictionary around here right now is hopeless. Right now we have our plane reservations, passports, luggage tags for the tour agency and money sitting in a very safe place, and as a last hurrah and because we're completely insane we're taking all the kids to the Pittsburgh Zoo for the day. They're having a baby shower for the new baby elephant and there's nothing quite as sweet as taking little kids to see baby animals. And yes, we're taking two cars.

Soon as we get back, we're dropping them all at the curb, and peeling out to head to a hotel by the airport. After dinner out and a bit of sleep, we fly out at the crack of dawn, and will be in Mexico by 9:30 am tomorrow. I figure we'll be on the beach before noon.

We pulled out the travel brochures, passports, luggage tags, etc. and our two daughters, standing in the kitchen, told us they were both completely consumed with envy. Can I just tell you how fun that is - to be in your 50's, with wrinkles and saggy rears, and have anyone be jealous of our life?! Pretty fun - be back in a week or so to tell you all about fun in the sun.


  posted at 11:00 AM

Birthday Party Favors
Next week will be the two year anniversary of this little blog. I thought I'd have a birthday party for STS, even though I'll actually be on the white sand beaches of Mexico. So you're all invited to come on over, and grab a door prize. I cleaned out my bookshelves and decided to clear out a bit. Some I've read, some I intended to read, some are just favorites and I buy a copy anytime I see it, with the hopes of sharing with someone who hasn't had the pleasure of reading one of my all-time favorites.

So without further ado - here's a long, long list of books and videos to be given away. I'll leave this open til I get back from Mexico. After we get home, soon as the house is caught up to a reasonable level (clean undies and fresh milk) I'll announce the winners and send them on their way.

NOTE: I seriously didn't realize all the photos are sideways and just don't have time to fix them. Our house is a wee-bit crazy with family here, getting ready to leave on vacation, so please just turn your head as far sideways as it will go!

#1 Christy, by Catherine Marshall. One of my all-time favorite books. Precious for anyone age ten and up, with the true heart of a missionary here in the U.S. captured. I have a hardback copy of my own, held together with fiber tape, that I'll never give away.

#2 How to Read a Book. Seriously. By Mortimer J. Adler (don't you just love that someone went through life with the name of Mortimer?). "Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading", so if you are interested in that rather than dumb reading, let me know. I have my own copy.

#3 Pleasers by Kevin Leman. Began to skim it and realized I'm not. A Pleaser. Too sassy for that, but it had good stuff in it. Hardback practically brand new. I'd be pleased to send it to someone.

#4 If You Want to Write, Brenda Ueland. Like she said, if you want to write, this is a good one to read. I have my own copy to keep.

#5 Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg. Classic on how to write, and I'm currently reading and marking up my own copy. You don't want my copy, it's way too messy but you might enjoy this one. She has some funky Zen stuff in it, but the woman knows how to write.

#6 Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott. Another classic on how to write, and I have my own copy, and her hair is really, really funky, like that dreadlock kid on American Idol, but again, she can write. Brand new copy.

#7 The Hobbit, by J. R. R. Tolkein. I always loved that he has two middle initials - how interesting is that? This is a fabulously fun book to read, for anyone about 12 or older. They're making it into a movie, so you need to read this. I've read it twice, and I have a dog-eared copy to reread someday, after retirement.

#8 Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas, by James Patterson. Given to me as a gift, still brand new, hardback. If you like sweet romance, and what woman doesn't?

#9 The Memory Keeper's Daughter, by Kim Edwards. Not a light-hearted book, but a good read. It'll keep you up reading, late into the night.

#10 Learning to Sing, by Clay Aiken. Okay - a little weird but I really liked his singing and wanted to hear what he had to say. The first thing he did after he started making money was buy his momma a house, and I'd like him just for that. Hardback, uplifting book.

#11 Showdown, by Ted Dekker. Weird writer, good Christian fiction. You either like him or you don't. My husband does, but he doesn't read books twice. Hardback, new condition.

#12 CD of Hillsong, London, with bonus DVD, so if you like good worship music, this is it. Great stuff to clean house to!

#13 - and drum roll please, for last, for weirdness, The Dog Sitter. DVD of stuff dogs apparently like to watch, and you leave this on while you're away to keep your dog happy. Funny clippage of monkeys in costume riding around on dogs, squirrels, birds at birdfeeders, ducks on pond, we used this the first time we took our grandson Landon to the zoo. Not as a prep, but he was fussy and we didn't have any other DVD's to keep babies happy and he actually liked it. So maybe babies at 8 months and dogs are at the same intellectual level? Anyway it's a DVD made just for dogs, to babysit them while you're out and about, escaping the smell of dog in your house.

Note: I forgot to take a photo of it, but if you're an animal lover, you'll get a kick out of this, and your dog(s) will too.

So if you'd like any of these, leave me a comment telling me which one, and a way to contact you. I'll draw numbers, figure it all out after we're back home first week of May. I'll date this to stay at the top of posts, although with the price of Internet Service when you're out of the country I won't be posting til we get back home.


  posted at 8:01 AM

Wednesday, April 23, 2008
The House on Emile Street
It felt odd, having her picture taken all by herself. That was for only children and she certainly wasn't that. Used to standing in the middle of the whole gang, they'd line up by age and all she had to do was be still, look straight ahead and smile until they took the picture. This time she'd picked out her own clothes and dressed herself too, slipping on her shiny Mary Janes and those little white socks with ruffles around the ankles. When you're one of six, getting Momma's attention for such things didn't happen much. Someone brushed her hair and clipped it with a little plastic barrette, to keep the blonde curls out of her eyes. She squinted them from the bright Texas sun, and stood where she was told, next to the big pecan tree in the yard. Covered with scars from rain, hail and ice storms, every fall it still dropped loads and loads of pecans. Inside or out, no scars were on seven years old, not much had happened yet to mark her skin, or her soul.

How she loved that big old white house. Later she wouldn't be able to tell how long she lived there. On Emile Street time wasn't counted by years, but by the many memories of happy times, gentle times, simple times. Times of playing dolls on the front porch, while rain fell in gushes over the gutters, and she stayed dry. Days she escaped the summer heat by slipping under the house to play in the dirt with her four brothers, digging holes for cars, and making forts. When any of them had to go to the bathroom, they just dug another hole. It was their secret, grown-ups would never know!

On Emile Street her brothers showed her how to melt snails on the sidewalk with Momma's Morton salt. They'd melt like nobody's business into a gooey sludge, and when you scooted them away with your shoe, it left a wet spot where they'd been. There were no trees on the other side of the house but it was the perfect place to spread a blanket on the grass and make clover necklaces with her big sister. They watched for bees hovering over the clover flowers they were stealing from under their noses. Bee stings didn't really hurt that much, and it was fun pulling out their stingers. You could keep them in a mason jar as a pet for the day. Daddy allowed pets in jars.

She left that house every morning, one of the 'big kids', while 'the babies' stayed at home. Momma had told her, 'soon as you learn to tie your shoes you can go with them.' Making all those loops had been so confusing and her little fingers still struggled to manage it. Mary Janes solved that!

Years later the house on Emile Street would gather up and hold all her ideas of what 'home' should be, from the big porch, to the high ceilings and tall windows, open rooms and a sprawling yard for doing somersaults and cartwheels til she felt sick from it. Someday she'd long to visit it again, if it was still standing. Maybe termites would have gotten it. The Piney Woods of Texas had lots of termites. She'd spend the rest of her life looking for that house, trying to recapture that time. Maybe what she was looking for was the little girl who lived there, who played in the yard, under the house, on the front porch with a whole gang of brothers and a sister and had no scars on her skin or soul, maybe it wasn't just the house she longed for.

Note: Thank you to Susie, at Bluebird Blogs, for the beautiful new design of my template, using photo of me, age seven, taken at Emile Street.

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  posted at 8:00 AM

Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Hair Issues
We're making some permanent changes in the hair situation around here - regarding mine and the dogs'. I got mine highlighted a couple of weeks ago, trying to look like I've been in the sun the past several months when the truth is it's been snowy or icy or rainy here since about last November. Right now my hair looks sun-kissed, and it should for $90! I didn't mind paying for the highlights, but honestly when she charged me $30 to dry and style my hair? If I'd known that I swear I would have left with it wet and drippy. I came home with beautifully styled hair to clean the bathrooms and cook supper. But I just realized those highlights go very well with the 25% (or more) of grey hairs coming out of my scalp, and so if I just keep highlighting, more and more over the next few years I should eventually come out with a head of 'natural highlights', right? Is there a single soul out there who used to color her hair light golden brown and went to what was actually natural - grey - without having that horrible band of grey roots growing down your head like a Burger King Crown Gone Bad, seen at Walmarts all over the nation daily? I'd love to know, because if you did, then I'm more than happy to pay the $90 a few hundred more times to grow this color out til I just look like a radiant Grammy? For now I'll stick with highlights, the question is just how many - do I need to look like Dolly Parton, sans anatomy, to get this grown out? Help please!

I also figured out I love everything single thing about Golden Retrivers except their hair (and the fact that they drool buckets of water when they walk away from their bowls, and their big hairy paws track mud and worse into the kitchen when they come inside, and poop scooping that feels like mucking out the stables, and wrenching my shoulder out of joint hauling the dog food inside the house), so tomorrow we're making the switch to yellow labs. Both Goldens are getting shaved til they resemble labs, and I plan to keep them that way F.O.R.E.V.E.R. or til they go to be Jesus' dog or live with their real parents. I like yellow labs, and I know they'll still shed, but 1/4" long hair is a lot easier to deal with than 4" long hair that looks like some hussy blonde has been having a heyday on my kitchen floor and family room carpet! Their shaving costs less than my highlights, $59 a pop. Unfortunately that's for one!

So the hair budget has been put on steroids, and I'm figuring if we schedule me one month, then skip a month, two dogs the next month, skip a month, then my turn again, that'll work, right? Or maybe I need to leave wet every time? That should make me feel like a classy girl, standing to pay with wet dripping onto my checkbook. And if that doesn't pan out then I wonder what my hairdresser would charge to just shave me? $90 or $59 - that's a $31 savings, which is about half a dog shaving, multiplied by two, every other month.....yeah, I've got this all figured out.

Wonder what would happen if I get really confused and take them to my hairdresser and I show up at the groomer? I can just picture it now, each of them sitting in the hairdresser chair with a chai tea in hand, towels over their shoulders, their paws in little plastic bags to wax away the dry skin, chatting away, and I'm standing on the groomer's table, that strap around my neck, tail tucked between my legs, listening to the groomer girls chat about Brad and Angelina, or what's amuk in their marriage and why their kids have all gone bad...


  posted at 7:49 AM

Monday, April 21, 2008
Honest Injun
"Hello Sarah, may I please speak to Caiden?"

"Hey Caiden, it's Grammy."


"Hi Caiden, how are you?"

"I'm fine. How are you? Did you know I'm coming to your house next week?"

"I did, Papa and I are SO excited! Mama told me you have TWO loose teeth. That's VERY exciting" (Caiden and I talk alot about 'exciting things' with highly elevated voices).

"Grammy, when Mama's tooth was loose, why did you put pliers in her mouth? Why didn't you just be patient and wait, because I think being patient would have been better?"

"You're right, I should have waited. I think it was hanging out of her mouth a little bit and she couldn't really eat, so I grabbed it with pliers." (Surely a little boy will think this was a cool thing to do.)

"Grammy, I don't think that was very safe, and since Papa is Mr. Safety, I think you should have waited and asked him. So Grammy, why didn't you just wait?"

"Well, Caiden, I don't know, I think you're right. I should have just waited. So maybe you can just wiggle your loose teeth a lot instead of having Mama put pliers in your mouth to yank your teeth out. That might be a better idea."

"Yeah Grammy, MUCH better."

God, were we, was I, ever that honest? Was there ever a time when I was completely innocent and void of any malice, able to ask someone why they did something incredibly stupid? If so, how did I lose it? I can only imagine, if Caiden knew half the dumb things I've done in this lifetime, what he would have to say about them. And I'd be blessed to hear. How refreshing to hear pure honesty in this day and age. So maybe sending children to this earth is not just about repopulating, maybe it's about keeping the rest of us straight? Maybe that's partly why you keep sending them?

"So Caiden, when the tooth does come out, by itself, are you going to put it under your pillow, so the Tooth Fairy can give you money?"


"How much money do you think the Tooth Fairy will bring you?"

"Two thousand dollars."

"Two thousand dollars! Wow! Why on earth do you think she will bring so much?"

"Because my teeth are still in really good shape."

"Good point, Caiden. Let me know if she does, because I may have a few loose ones myself. Not that I'll be putting pliers in my mouth, but maybe I could just wiggle them a bit and see."

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  posted at 7:55 AM

Saturday, April 19, 2008
This month is the twelve year anniversary of moving into this house, the longest I've ever, ever lived anywhere in my entire life, by five years! This month is also the two year anniversary of this little blog. Amazingly, this month is also the four year anniversary of my brother's death, which I vowed back then to mark by celebrating life in many forms.

I repainted the frame of the only momento I have from him - a beautiful close-up photograph of a purple iris. The frame had been painted lilac to match, and I finally, this year, repainted it cream. It doesn't match a single thing in my house, but it hangs in my entry every April for the entire month, as a reminder to me that he did see beauty in this life. I need that reminder of his life when that date rolls around every year. His life was not all sadness.

To celebrate the two year anniversary of my little blog, I'm surprising me with a brand new template, Susie at BlueBird Blogs is busy working away on it - and it's going to be something really special. I'll explain at the unveiling early next week. I also cleaned off my bookshelves and have a dozen books and a few CD's to give away, starting sometime next week before we head to Mexico for some time in the sun.

To celebrate being in this grand old house twelve years, I'm busy painting and rearranging furniture, adding little touches here and there, and tomorrow I'll sweep off the front porch slab, wash down the benches and rockers out there, and the two big planters should sport yellow and blue and purple pansies by day's end. Then we'll light the grill, throw on a couple of steaks, pour a couple of glasses of wine, sit on the deck and soak in that feeling of just how good life is, day in and day out. Happy Weekend everyone!


  posted at 5:28 PM

Friday, April 18, 2008
Time to Dream
We were blessed to babysit our grandson, Landon last night while his parents went on a date. He arrived just in time for supper, which was made much more fun by his presence. Hearing a toddler point and say 'ketcup', then pouring him a glob and watching him dip his little green peas, one at a time - fun, messy entertainment! We played til he was good and worn out, then moved on to bathtime, and ended with nighttime rituals of prayer, singing, kissing all the stuffed animals goodnight and tucking him into the crib.

In spite of the monitor being quiet, about an hour later, I crept upstairs and took a peek. Seeing his little body stretched out in the crib, deep in sleep, snuggling a favorite toy - oh, such sweet stuff. Grandkids truly are a wonderful payback for putting up with your own kids for 20 something years.

So while we had 'Bubby', his parents went off for a carefree evening. When they got back to our house to retrieve their baby (the best part of grandparenting!), we asked how their evening went, where had they spent it? Leslie told us they started at Olive Garden, using a gift card for dinner. She told me they sat and enjoyed watching several families, who had their children along for the ride, pulling out toys and crackers and whatever, trying to entertain them while getting a biteful of food into their own mouths now and then. She said watching the other families made her quiet dinner even more pleasurable. I have to assume they weren't sitting too close!

Then we asked, 'so did you take in a movie, go to Barnes and Noble?' They told us they went to the dollar theatre but nothing really grabbed them or was playing at the right time, so they headed to Home Depot.

Home Depot? On a date? Ends up they were pricing dish washers, shutters, kitchen countertops, all the stuff dreams are made up of. They're in the beginning stages of house shopping, trying to find a house to buy, that they can afford now, but will fit their needs a bit down the road. Anything they've come up with needs a bit of TLC, so they decided to spend their evening dreaming, making plans, counting the cost of adding feathers to a little nest for them.

Such good stuff - when a life is made up of evenings where dates are spent dreaming at Home Depot. We were able, off the top of our heads, to tell them what a dishwasher and shutters cost, because we've been down that road many times. We've done a lot of dreaming. They're just at the start of it, and it was a blessing to us to watch over their little one while they walked up and down the aisles of the home fixup store, making plans, then coming home to tell us all about it. That which makes for a rich life, surely this is it.

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  posted at 8:44 AM

Thursday, April 17, 2008
My Personal Interior Decorator, Janae!
You may remember last month I spent some time sprucing up two of the upstairs bedrooms. The 'Master' and the 'Mistress', that's me :-). I'm not sure what Princess Diana called her little sleeping spot, but it wasn't where Prince Charles settled in every night, so whatever she called hers, that's what mine is too.

Anyway, we painted, added new bedding and window treatments but it just didn't have any oomph or punch. When our son Dan and DIL Janae were here in late March, I asked her opinion. What was it lacking? It looked 'nice' but just didn't grab me either. It took her about five seconds to comment, 'you know, hotels and really nice homes' master bedrooms all seem to have a big painting over the bed....'

Voila! (see Sarah, I can learn and did not type Whallah! although I still mispronounce about half the words in Websters Dictionary, tough ones like 'blah' and 'diva' and 'Guiliani' but I did fix 'Voila!'.) Janae even suggested I go with a not-ordinary shape. So being the big spender, I measured the space, then headed right over to our local messy consignment second-hand store, walked around, climbed over, pulled out every single painting they had in the place. Nothing was quite right. Or too expensive since I don't care enough to have a signed print from Ethan Allen with a second-hand price of $200! Good grief, I wouldn't pay that the first time around.

When I walked in a woman was making a truly huge pile of items at the counter. She'd grabbed one painting that I liked, the others were a bit too high-brow or fussy or feminine for me. I liked the one, but acted all non-chalant and kept moving. Ends up she's a dental hygenist who sidelines decorating very expensive homes in our area with consignment items! Wealthy people apparently pay her to look around, find stuff at good prices, bring it in and decorate their homes! Who knew? I just thought they all had great taste, or at least better than mine.

She told the consignment store owner she'd take all the items, 'audition them' with the home owners and bring back what they didn't want to buy. Right before she left, she set aside the one painting I liked. She told the owner 'it wasn't quite high-end enough'. Soon as she went out the door I grabbed it like nobody's business and talked the store owner down $5 to a whopping price of $40.

Here's the 'before my personal decorator Janae helped me' look:

Here's after:

Thanks Janae, and if you ever get tired of your day job, you just might want to start checking out consignment stores and expensive homes in your area. Apparently there's money to be made in what you're doing! Now, about my wardrobe and total inability to figure out shoes.....

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  posted at 7:45 AM

Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Wall Quotes!
I posted awhile back that I'd redone the brick wall in our kitchen, at least I think I did (post, not redo the wall). I waited for DH to travel out of town because he was a bit fretty about applying five gallons of joint compound onto a perfectly good brick wall, then I poured a glass of wine, rented the video "Bridget Jones Diary", climbed up on the stepladder and the rest is history. A girlfriend had shown me how to tear up paper grocery bags, double stick tape them to the walls, then go to town with joint compound, and Whallah! Instant, or at least overnight replica of the walls in Bravo's restaurant. It took about three days for the entire process. I went to a website that translated, Babblefish I believe. There I typed in a quote I'd found on the internet - "A passion for food is a passion for life." I took the italian words and painted them onto my kitchen wall. There they stood for at least a couple of years, looking, as Randy on American Idol would say, "it was alright, just alright", but recently I saw this in a magazine!

Vinyl wall quotes - just the ticket for dressing up an area but if the next owners don't really want that, they can just plug in their hairdryer and take it off. I found out they are also carried at Target and I found mine at Joann Fabrics for $19.99. I'd guess Michaels has them too.

It took me about an hour to apply it, because my wall is just a wee bit bumpy from the five gallons of joint compound. If you had a smooth wall it would likely take about ten minutes. They provide a little white 'credit card' type of thing to rub across the transfer, so you don't have to trash your Target credit card, not that I have a Target credit card, since I'm opposed to paying 21% interest on something I bought on 'sale', but you get the point.

I am T.H.R.I.L.L.E.D. with how it turned out! $19.99 at Joann's and I used the 40% coupon, so this dandy wall-dresser-upper cost me around $12.00 - I still think a 'passion for food is a passion for life' but they didn't offer that quote, yet. They do sell one that says, "All because two people fell in love" and I'm thinking it would be great in the rec room over our family photos. Then there's the one that says, "Always kiss me goodnight" - wouldn't that be great over a guest bedroom bed! The possibilities are just endless.

I think the next owners will love this, but if not, I'm willing to write a counter-offer with the hair dryer thrown in with the house!

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  posted at 7:48 AM

Monday, April 14, 2008
Road Trip
We traveled toVirginia this past weekend, stayed about 12 hours and headed back home again. I knitted as DH and I chatted. I remembered past car trips, sipping coffee from the Stanley thermos and eating twizzlers while solving all the big problems of life, which included where to go on vacation this year, and how to pay for it, but also deeper stuff - paying for kids' college, who they were dating or if they should, extended family issues, his career, our lives. Those were great drives.

The further south we went the more we saw signs of Spring. Little green leaves were budding out, and the flowering trees were lovely - white bradford pears, pink tulip trees, yellow forsynthia bushes, and something purple I didn't recognize. The green, oh the green of the hillsides coming out of hiding from under all that dull, brown brush. The creeks were rushing along, and baby lambs and calves dotted the pastures. There's nothing quite as cute as an, eventually doomed to be dumb-looking, but for an ever so brief period of time, cute newborn calf. Unless it's two of them. Watching them run and chase after each other while their moms stood and chewed their cuds was like the icing on the cupcake of spring. We rolled down the windows to let in the most delicious smell of wet and dirt and manure all mixed together.

Getting away from home gave us room to breathe, think, feel, beyond the rote 'what's for dinner and where do we have to be tonight?'.

We arrived at our hotel 15 minutes before the banquet began. As we rode up in the elevator to our room, in jeans and t-shirts, carrying our bags, another couple joined us, in dressy clothes. Feeling rushed, we nodded hello but didn't speak. Fifteen minutes later we joined them at their table for dinner, they took a second look at us, then asked, "Didn't we just see you?" After taking a deep breath, it ended up being a nice evening.

As we pulled away the next morning, we passed another couple in the parking lot. It was barely 35 degrees, and the young girl had on a summer dress, with a little jacket, and white strappy shoes. She looked positively giddy, holding onto his arm for all she was worth. As we climbed into our car, we saw their pickup truck. Written on the window, "Have Fun!" and "Just Married!" I smiled to see how happy they were, after their honeymoon night at the same place we'd stayed. They were in a little town of 6,000 people in the middle of nowhere in the toe of Virginia, but clearly on Cloud Nine, at the beginning of a lifetime.

Back on the road, we continued yesterday's chat. What did DH think about painting the house a new color? She's been white for 40 years, maybe it's time for a radical change to khaki? When should we visit Colorado, and are we going to Texas for Thanksgiving again? When you have 16 hours on the road, you can also talk about how to fight the inequities in the world, what can we do, should we do? How do you know when to help, how to help, what is our responsibility - as people, as Christians - to answer some of the problems of the world we see all around us? What about the homeless, the horribly needy, not only in the world, but right here in our country? How does the little bit we do help, make a difference, when there are so many? What about this upcoming election - will we 'go to hell in a handbasket' if our party isn't elected? We've survived some pretty pitiful past leaders, and what about that verse that he 'turns the hearts of kings'? Does God concern himself with who's elected president of the United States for a brief four year period of history, when there's so much going on in the world at large?

Are we on track to retire, what are we not considering, what have we forgotten? How do we know if we're set - not only financially, but emotionally, spiritually, physically? Are we ready for this huge change that's getting closer all the time? Will we blossom together or drive each other nuts?

It's surprising to me how easy it is to live as ships passing in the night much of the time. We share meals, a home, a life, but it's not often we really, really talk. Its' been too long since we took a road trip together, where those conversations are as rich and full-bodied as the piping hot coffee we stopped for along the way. Maybe more marriages would stay together, stay strong and alive and really be the stuff those dreams of that young girl, fresh from her wedding night, are made of, if we all just took a road trip now and then.

Driving down the road, inside that car, I was reminded of the privilege of having someone sitting next to me who's traveling with me thru this life, headed the same direction, and wanting our life to be at least as rich as that quick-stop coffee is. Even if we don't have all the answers, at least we're asking the questions, together.


  posted at 9:30 PM

Taking Ten instead of Running Away
Last week, when I stopped to pick up my daughter for a girl day away, I thought I'd pop in and hug my grandchild, Landon. He's 19 months old, and at 10:10 am he was STILL asleep. He'd been tucked in at 8 pm the night before. When I dropped Leslie off at 2:20 pm, I popped back in, sure he'd be awake now. He was down for his nap. That's a lot of sleep!

When he is awake, he's full of energy, giggles, living life with gusto. Running here and there, investigating and engaging in everything around him. There's no halfway for him - either fully awake or fully crashed.

I'm reading "Meet Me at the Well" by Virelle Kidder, a book I noticed in my bookclub offerings. The subtitle got me 'Take a Month and Water Your Soul'. So I'm doing that during the month of April, after a jam-packed winter. Summer promises to be full of home repairs, yard work, etc so I decided to coast just a bit in April, although my version of coast likely isn't anything that would make you jealous. Paint all the baseboards and doors in the house white, paint the two bathrooms neutral linen, go through all my clothing to sort and toss, and do some spring cleaning of those areas that generally get a lick and a promise. It's the Bev-version of 'coasting'.

In a chapter titled, "Would it be so bad to run away?" Virelle suggests 'two therapies that worked wonders' for restoration. Sleep and laughter.

She suggests I imitate my grandson Landon, and sleep with gusto. Take a nap daily, between twenty and thirty minutes, and a decent night's sleep, preceeded by something funny on TV or a light-hearted book (while avoiding the news), piling in bed with a snack and some tea, snuggling up under nice sheets and a comforter in a pleasant, peaceful bedroom, and sleeping 'like a baby'.

She even suggests I 'walk a wider circle around those whose regular conversations pull you under when you're paddling hard to keep your head above water'. That's certainly food for thought.

DH had a last minute trip out of town come up, so I'm starting today with painting myself out to the garage, putting a fresh coat on the basement stairs, then taking a break by going to open knitting for a bit. Back home to paint DH's bathroom, then by gosh and by golly, I'm going to grab that new Mitford book, curl up on the sofa, and drift off for ten or twenty minutes. Much better than completely running away.

I want to feel refreshed like Landon does, ready to grab life, and everything around me. Surprisingly, that's going to involve an adult version of curling up with a wubbie for just a bit.


  posted at 7:38 AM

Saturday, April 12, 2008
Ignorance is Bliss!
Years ago when our kids were little, a night away at a hotel was a real treat. We didn't stay in many growing up, because really, who in their right mind would stay in a hotel with six kids? When DH and I married, we checked in, now and then, usually while crossing the country to see family, and it was something I really looked forward to. I got a kick out of the little coffee pot, the hair dryer hooked to the wall, cups with little covers on them, fancy schmancy Window Treatments (where at home we had curtains), and the toilet paper was folded into points so you'd know they'd freshened up the potty.

Not everywhere we've stayed has been great - there have been some real loo-loos in our hotel past. We've been eaten alive by fleas, had drunk people next door scream at us through the walls, slept in water beds that rocked so hard I literally woke up with bruises on my hip bones. That's back when my hip bones were somewhat more protruded, so I'm not thinking that's going to happen again anytime soon - I've covered them with a bit more padding for protection. We've stayed at places with red velvet curtains (not window treatments) (never a good thing!), places where we literally all slept in our clothes for four hours and then hit the road again because it was just too yucky, but at 4 am in the middle of Kansas you can't be real choosy. Come to think of it, most of those awful places were in the middle of Kansas. Not sure what Dorothy was thinking there, 'there's no place like home!'

This weekend, we're heading out to Virginia for a quick overnight trip, to accept an award for DH's company, and they are putting us up at a hotel, wining and dining us, then the next morning we'll have breakfast out, and make the seven hour drive back home. It sounds like a nice get-away to me.

I'm not very germ conscious, so it came as a surprise to me the last time I was with girlfriends. We got on the subject of hotels and they started telling me they take T-shirts from home to put over the pillowcases, they wear socks so their bare feet don't touch the floor. One of them, honest to pete, cleans the hotel bathroom with a traveling cleaning kit she carries. Are you kidding? I barely clean my own. Part of the purpose of leaving is to go somewhere it's not my job to clean a single thing. They started telling me horror stories of why they don't drink out of the glasses, because you know someone might have just popped a new paper cover on it and not washed it. On and on and on. That there might accidentally be a hair in the bathtub sent them all over the edge. (Note to self: double check for bathtub hairs before next guests arrive, so they don't run screaming out the front door...). Seriously, the odds are that some are just hairs off my head of wavy hair... I swear I shed more than the dogs.

Much like reading your teenage daughter's diary, sometimes too much information is just that - better not to know. I was excited about our little trip, but can't a girl just go stay in a hotel, drink a diet coke over ice while sitting up in bed watching cable TV, and not hear the horror stories of that special on whatever channel it was, about all the creepy germs that show up when you shine that funky light on the bed? Please don't start describing to me why you don't ever touch a hotel bedspread. Or blanket. I have no intention of shining any lights on the bed.

Really, I'd like to just go back to the days when I walked through the hotel door, delighted to be there, use up all the little shampoo and conditioner bottles, check out what is on HBO, and start looking for the ice machine, somewhere down the hall. Reality checks - over-rated!


  posted at 8:00 AM

Friday, April 11, 2008
The Mother of ALL Projects!
We started this HORRIBLE lovely project the middle of January. It's so nasty here that time of year, you might as well stay inside and find an elephant to eat, one bite at a time!

The basement storage room was just a mess, nasty, dirty, yucky - how many words are there to describe it? It was also so big it was awkward. We'd put up a huge curtain, dividing it off to create a sewing area for me, but decided the time was ripe to dress it up a bit. Since I'm blessed that DH is handy-dandy, we knew it wouldn't cost much. Labor is generally about 60% of any home remodeling project. His labor is relatively free, if you don't count regular meals, freshly-ironed shirts, and we just won't mention any other forms of showing appreciation for his efforts, now will we, because our kids read this and it would creep them out we're family friendly here.

First step, DH told me I had to EMPTY THE ROOM! Somehow that hadn't occurred to me. So we took everything except the fridge and freezer out, and shoved them to the rec room, next door. We don't really 'rec' down there much anyway. Honestly the only living creature in this house who plays pool is the cat. (Note - pool table will stay when we move away. Cat will go with.)

I pushed into the rec room the stuff that I had to either sort, or give away. Cans of paint, camping equipment, etc. were left on the storage room shelves and pushed to the other side of the room so DH could work. We did a lot of pushing and shoving, of stuff, not each other, to keep a free workspace.

DH started his magic, framing up a wall, with closets on both side. This side is the storage room, and it's still huge, even after dividing it off. The other side is what became my oh so lovely sewing room. The storage room has a 9 foot closet, with a 6 foot opening. The craft room has a 6 foot closet, with a 4 foot opening - fabulous, fabulous for keeping a room neat.

So here it is with the wall up, and the closets framed in. DH also added some outlets, so I could plug in the appliances in a different spot, and more were added to the sewing room too. You just can't have too many outlets, and most older homes don't have nearly enough.

Once the wall was up, and the closets were in, next job was to pull out the shelves so I could paint the walls. We cut the shelves back from 9 to 5, getting rid of any of the older ones that were nasty, rusty, etc. They have a new home in the garage with the other rusty stuff. You can see from the floor that I had to paint this room in steps - move that, paint here, move it again, paint there. Made the whole project take much longer, but less work putting it all back too. The walls were painted with Dry Lok, a moisture barrier that we had tinted to match the sheetrock wall. If you paint a cinderblock wall with latex, you can never go back and waterproof it.

So two coats of gritty Dry Lok were applied. I'm still just amazed what a can of paint can do for improving the looks of a room, any room! The room looked much better. Me? Not so much, the gritty paint flecked into my hair, onto my hands, and somedays DH would come to a wife who was a frightful mess. Note - you may not want to attempt this project unless you've been married at least 25 years, so they don't turn and run when they see you!

We painted the cement floor with a sand color, to brighten it up. It was grey, but looked too utilitarian for me. The closet doors and baseboards were painted a fresh coat of white. The fridge and freezer were moved into place, where the new outlet is behind them.

Then began the most monumental bite of elephant of the whole project, in my book, but then I didn't have to hang the sheetrock either. I had to go through every single box of keepsakes, ours and the kids, sort, toss, put into ziploc bags, etc. In other words, all that stuff on the pool table. There were days I found myself procrastinating because the job was so big, so I finally grabbed the kitchen timer and started working on it in one hour increments. Sure enough, soon as I got going, I didn't want to quit! The side dish of diet coke didn't hurt...

THIS JUST MAKES MY SEMI-OCD HEART HAPPY! Each shelf has categories, the last one on the end is all the kids' keepsakes, from cabbage patches, to trophies, to matchbox cars, books, barbies, etc. etc. etc. When we move next year, each kid will become the proud owner of their boxes - Note: Sarah, you have two, Leslie, you get three, and Dan - you are the proud owner of seven boxes, one Steel-trac, a baseball bat, football helmet and karate trophy that would not fit in a box. All yours kiddo!

Here's the closet - what a fabulous idea my DH had putting this in. It holds golf clubs, the carpet cleaner and downstairs vacuum, unused baby furniure that will be used by future grandbabies, seasonal decor (sled, scarecrow), folding chairs and table, wedding dresses, ,etc. Because really it's just hard to file away a sled or scarecrow neatly. I love that it's all handy, but I can just shut the door and it looks wonderfully neat.

This end is the pantry DH put in for us last year - and tucked under the stairs is all the Christmas decor (I gave half of it away at last year's 'Free Garage Sale'.) That drafting table will go with us for DH's fishing room, and I use it as a gift wrap / package center right now. I also keep a row of boxes under the last pantry shelf, to fill up with Viet Vet donations. Makes it easy, when they fill up, I go online and schedule a pickup. We've done eight pickups since we began this in January. Another one is scheduled for next week, winter clothing we didn't wear enough to warrant keeping it. I think the end of any season is the best time to go through clothing and give it away. It's much easier to decide whether to keep or give away then.

Drum roll please, heck entire marching band parading through the basement. I'm over the moon at having this project done. We haven't seen the top of the pool table in three months. There are boxes that still need going through, for fine tuning what to keep, etc. I still have to paint the baseboards and trim in this room white, those french doors need another coat of white, and the stairs will get a second coat of that paint we used on the storage room floor. A few family photos in black and white, then HALLELUJAH, an entire floor of the house will be done. Please excuse the inch of dust on that little black table. From my previous post on dusting laser beams in garages, you know about how often I dust anything.

If you hear a burp, that's just me, enjoying that last bite of Elephant!

  posted at 8:10 AM

Thursday, April 10, 2008
Radical Spring Cleaning
Who knew - you have to spring clean your garage!

Seriously? Apparently so.

This weekend we hit the little button on the garage door, the door went up, and then it went back down, back and forth, over and over. DH did the male thing and jiggled it a bit here and there, but it didn't fix it. Then it got better. A couple days later it started doing it again. So we made the call to Mr. Garage Door Opener Repairman, and he showed up lickety-split. So lickety-split I was still in pjs, and that's just a fun way to meet a strange male at your door, don't you agree?

So we ramble around to the garage, me trying not to act awkward that I'm still in sleeping attire, and I explain to him, in female language, what I think happened. "We pushed the button, it came down, went up, back down, back up, and the light started flashing and making a clicking sound. So we called you."

He said, 'are you sure the lights flashed?' 'Ummmm, yeah, I think so.' He walks through the garage opening and pushes the button and sure enough lights flash and it flys back up. He explains to me it's obvious it's something with the 'eye', and not the mechanics of the opener itself. Oh yeah, that was completely obvious to us...

I tell him / show him, see, the snow shovels are pushed away, and so are the trash cans. There's clearly nothing in the way of the 'eye'. So while I'm standing there barefoot, in pajamas, no makeup and stickey-up hair, i.e. looking like a completely classy lady who has it together all the time, he goes over to the 'eye' and dusts off the cobwebs that every garage in America has. He explains to me you have to clean the cobwebs off now and then, like every ten years or so, or it can obstruct the beam, that is invisible to the naked human eye, but can clearly see dust.

He walked to his truck, got out his metal clipboard, wrote me up a bill, and said, "sorry, they're going to charge you $62 for this.' They're? They're as in it's the company's fault, not his. There was a $34 service charge, that charge for driving to our home and with the current price of gas, I might not have paused at that one. Since the last fill-up was $63 and I get well under 20 miles to the gallon, that seemed about right.

Do you see it? See where that bill says, 'clean and adjust light beams'. It could have just said, 'spring cleaning necessary every decade'. I smiled, thanked him, wrote a check and assured him I would add it to next year's spring cleaning list. $35 for 10 minutes, I do believe that comes out to $210 an hour. I think I could have had a chat with a brain surgeon for about the same rate. I could hire Merry Maids for 14 hours at that hourly rate, and could have had someone here for two hours at the $35. I'm pretty sure, in those two hours, she could have taken a swipe at the drasted 'eyes' in the garage, and swished a potty or two to boot.

If there's anyone out there who actually cleans the eyes on their garage door opener, please don't tell me. I'm much happier just thinking everyone pays an outrageous sum every ten years to have someone come and do it for them. It's making me a little afraid, to even think about opening the windows in this place. Twenty-two windows, haven't been washed inside and out in a coon's age, yeah - best to just leave the windows closed, tilt the blinds and count on cloudy days here in the 'Burgh.


  posted at 8:00 AM

Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Breakfast with Hermie and Puppies and Grammy!
Look who came to my house for breakfast!

Isn't life sweet when all you need is juice, a granola bar, your favorite stuffed moose, and watching Hermie the Caterpillar on video while you start your day?

Having big, furry friends, who might just possibly be waiting for crumbs from said granola bar, to watch it with - even better!

Pure perfection. In his book and mine.


  posted at 9:09 AM

Monday, April 07, 2008
Celebrating Newness of Life
I love spring, almost everything about it, seeing the daffodils poke their heads up to check for an 'all clear' sign, the little purple hyacinths in the back yard bed, watching the clematis cast off it's blanket of last year's musty, old leaves, and start the climb up the porch trellis. A pair of house finches have again chosen the six foot conifer we planted a few years back, just past our front door, as their nesting sight. It never fails to make me smile, seeing long strands of dry grasses sticking out of the needles, giving away the location of their home. I'm praying T.C., the tomcat next door won't discover them. When I head out to retrieve the mail daily, they flutter out of the limbs, startled, anxious little parents, hovering on the wires overhead til the coast is clear, then they pop back through the limbs to check out that nest. Soon I'll hear little chirps as I walk by, the sound of a hungry brood. If T.C. doesn't discover them.

There's the sound and smell of springtime rain, sometimes a light mist to hold down the new grass seed, filling the air with the smell of wet, dusty dirt. At other times it's a hard, driving force, washing that same seed away. I love that smell! Like a bunch of hillbillies, we open the backdoor and leave it ajar to catch the sound of wind chimes doing a jitterbug from the rafters of the house - glorious! The songs of so many noisy birds mixed together this morning actually woke me up! I wonder if they've heard that verse, "make a joyful noise...." Hearing them reminds me of the scene in Cinderella where the birds and little creatures scurry about, whipping up a gown for the ball. 'Cinderelly, Cinderelly, we can make the dress so pretty!', it's a nice way to start a day. Everyone is busy it seems, busy with the chores that new life brings, and if I wait patiently, soon I'll catch a glimpse of a few new fawns resting on the hillside behind our home, just over the creek, where mama deer can keep a close eye, get a drink or munch on the ferns that are popping up through the hard clay ground daily.

Since I'm past the birthing age myself, thank the Lord!, what better way to celebrate this time of year than to birth a new quilt with my sewing group, The Sew and Sows. This one, called "Fresh Cuts" is going to be a beauty I do believe. We do several projects every year, as a group, but each quilt is individual, and it's always fun to see each woman's personality come through in her fabric choices.

Here's what mine looks like after I bought the pieces of fabric, brought them home and Susan, bless her heart, spent two afternoons helping me cut them into many, many little pieces, so I can put them back together again. (Yes, quilting makes a lot of sense!)

Each little area of fabric will eventually be a square block. That funny looking grey area is a 'design wall', such a handy thing for a quilter. It's a large sheet of insulation, cut to 6' x 7', covered with grey flannel, much like the old flannel boards used in Sunday School, then stapled right to the wall. It's wonderful for fussing with the pieces of a quilt block, moving them here and there and standing back to have a look-see. I'm thinking this quilt will make a pretty kitchen table topper, turned on point, with a vase of peonies or something else cut rom the flower beds plopped right in the middle of it all. It'll be the first thing you see when you walk in our front door, hopefully saying 'Welcome, come on in'.

That new sewing room is way too nice to waste - time to put it to good use. In a month or so I'll be back to show you what this looks like, once it's all put together. I think it's going to be a beautiful baby!


  posted at 10:03 PM

Sunday, April 06, 2008
The Mission of Mothering
When my oldest daughter, Sarah, suggests a book, whether it's a child's story or a novel or something non-fiction, I usually take a look. (I just finished 'Freckles', written in 1904.) There have been a few times I struggled to make it through her recommendation. (Silas Marner was tough!) My middle daughter is usually behind me in reading, so I'm the one slinging titles at her, and my son tends to have his nose in either a text book or something on fly fishing, so he and his Dad trade authors.

One of the authors Sarah has mentioned is Sally Clarkson. Nothing warms my heart as much as knowing there are godly women out there, further down the trail of mothering, who are mentoring, whether they know it or not. My daughters already know what I believe, how I feel, and have seen what I did - good and bad - so it's nice to have someone else model godly mothering for them. Sarah has mentioned Sally's books many times, and I finally ordered two of them to check out myself. The one I'm reading first is "The Mission of Motherhood, Touching Your Child's Heart for Eternity."

One thing Sally states in her prologue (of course I read the prologue, don't you?), is that the job of raising children is a 'vital part of God's call on their life.' That's something my own mother has told me many times. My number one job, calling, ministry, begins within my walls, with the people that I've either repeated vows with or brought into this world. She explained what she thinks that call entails. ' ...the fundamental mission of motherhood now is the same as it always was: to nurture, protect, and instruct children, to create a home environment that enables them to learn and grow, to help them develop a heart for God and his purposes, and to send them out into the world prepared to live both fully and meaningfully. It's up to us to embrace that mission, to use mothers' hands as instruments of his blessings.'

I started on the journey of motherhood at the ripe old age of barely 20. The last one left for college when I was 47. That was 27 years of having children here in our home, day in and day out, for better and for worse. I can't say that I'd want to do it all again, parts of it were so, so hard. There are moments I'd love to recapture, rewind and play back on slow speed, rocking them to sleep and smelling baby breath, watching first steps being taken, first rides on bicycles, reading to them at night, the smell of them fresh out of the bath, watching them pass a swimming test, or score a touchdown, or leave for a dance, pinning a corsage on their date, walking across the stage with caps and gowns on, diploma in hand, and those walks down the aisle. All would be worth repeating.

I'd love to redo some of the moments, disciplining out of anger and frustration, not taking the time they needed when it wasn't convenient, the moments I acted 17 when they were acting 17, not listening when they wanted to talk, giving advice too quickly instead of letting them figure it out, anytime I yelled, some of the angry words I spoke. Those I would love to redo. But you don't get to pick and choose. You just forge on through it, and no matter how many times you've already done it, each kid is a brand new experience. New joys, new trials, new growing experiences for both of you.

Tonight, I'm going to bed thankful for the Sally Clarkson's of this world, women whose hearts God has impressed with a message to share, one that tells my daughters their mission field is right at hand, and 'it's a vital part of God's call on their life.' You can check out Sally's blog here, to see what's on her heart lately. Whatever she has to share is likely a great read.


  posted at 10:54 PM

Friday, April 04, 2008
We're Virtually Twins
There's nothing that feels as creepy as pulling on yesterday's wet swimsuit, and since we're leaving for Mexico in about three weeks, I needed to buy an extra one. Pulling on a swimsuit is traumatic enough, without it being wet and full of sand from yesterday's visit to the beach. I headed to Land's End to do some browsing. They're known for carrying swimsuits that will put everything back where it was about twenty years ago, or before you had children. That's worth quite a bit in my book. I'd received the catalog in the mail a week or so ago, and it had the cutest tankinis. Perfect for anyone with tummys that could use some coverage, in other words for about 95% of the population over 21. And in cute patterns and colors other than black and navy blue, which are just a bit too matronly for my taste.

I found an adorable three piece set, the top, bottoms and a little skirt that can be thrown on for walks down the beach, or sitting in the little restaurant next to the pool. It took me about two seconds to choose a little skirt over trying to do 9,000 leg lifts or walk 500 miles between now and departure date to deal with the less than toned condition of my thighs.

Girls, you have to go to this website, regardless of whether you have a trip in your future or not, or plan to ever wear a swimsuit again. It was such fun! When I got there, I was asked to sign up for a Virtual Model, or "online twin" as they called her. (That's, sort of, me on the upper left, the only time you'll ever see me online in undies.) I typed in all my bodily statistics, including length of torso, weight, height, year I was born. I chose my face shape, hairstyle and color. It was fun to watch her morph as I added inches here and there, and see what happened when I clicked on "more mature". After I made her look like me, I chose the swimsuit, and clicked 'try on', and sure enough she did! There she was with my outfit on, and I was able to change colors, patterns, etc. and then turn her profile to see how non-flat my tummy would look in that particular suit.

When I'd finished all of this, I clicked on "ask for size suggestion" and lo and behold it told me 'size 6'. Come on! My daughters, who are 20 and 25 years younger than me are size 6ish, so I knew that wasn't right; obviously guessing at measurements isn't the best plan. So I went in and added an inch all over, and it told me size 8. That's still pretty darned terrific, and when I said, let's go with a size 10, she tried it on, and I was able to see what it would look like. (And if I actually look that good on the beach, that would be pretty fabulous too.)

Clicking on 'checkout', and seeing the total - completely worth it. To cover up a bit, to have everything put back where it's supposed to be, and to have someone, anyone, tell me to buy a size 6 - that hasn't happened since I was in middle school! Want to have fun with this - GO HERE. You can see the generic virtual female, you just have to go in and make your adjustments. I've always thought it would be fun to be a twin, now I have one that can show me what I'd look like with red hair, or if I gain or lose ten lbs, and she can try on clothes to my heart's content. Most ego-boosting 45 minutes I've spent in a long time!


  posted at 10:44 PM

You Can Totally Trust Me On This
Tofu - soybean curd. I had to look it up, because there's not much of a health nut living in me, I eat what I want, when I want, and the fact that I'm almost as tall as the average man, have a higher metabolism and a higher than normal energy level am a bit hyper, allows me to do so. Plus I just thought tofu was a bit weird, you know? And, like many of those vegetables I can't even name, I didn't know what to do with it if I did buy it? (I mean really, does anyone ever buy ugli fruit on purpose?)

But I knew it was good for you, DH takes cholesterol reduction medication, but I still try to take good care of him, so we limit the dinners made from what we call 'living sacrifices' around here. I bought it, brought it home, it lasts almost forever by the way, and that's good because it took me that long to get up the gumption to use it for something.

I had no clue what to do with it. I went to - great, great website when you don't know what to make for dinner. Typed in "Tofu" and hot and sour soup came up (so that's what those fluffy white things are!), several other dishes, and then this came up - Glazed Tofu Meatloaf. I had ground turkey and all the other ingredients, so I decided to just go for it. Subway is right at the bottom of the street if it's awful. And we've done that a few times, thrown dinner away and driven down the hill.

I.T.W.A.S.F.A.B.U.L.O.U.S.! I kid you not. When I prepared it, it looked very light-colored. You top it with soy sauce and brown sugar and dijon mustard and that gave it some color. Before the topping was added it looked about like I do when you put me on a beach, any beach. I blend in with the sand. If I actually make the mistake of wearing a light-colored bathing suit then you might not see me at all, which isn't necessarily a bad thing either but I digress.

After it was done, I let it 'rest', so it wouldn't fall apart when I took it out of the loaf pan. I'd made mashed sweet potatoes and green beans to go with it, to add some color to the plate. Because we're all fancy like that, making sure the plates are visually pleasing too.

DH took a few bites of it, he rarely asks what anything is, but rather like the normal male, just stops talking, starts eating until they've finished their entire dinner in five minutes, and they lift their heads to ask if there's more. He stopped and told me, 'this is good. Really good.'

So I got brave and told him, 'it's turkey tofu meatloaf.' Without missing a beat he said, 'it's the best meatloaf I've ever had. Is there more?'

So here's the strangest recipe I'll probably ever post on this blog, but I promise it's been tested by a male who grew up on 'living sacrifices' like pot roasts, with mashed potatoes and gravy. If he liked it, everyone should too. You just have to decide whether to ever tell the truth as to what it's made of.

Glazed Tofu Meatloaf.
(Submitted by Makanini who I don't know but I liked her name.)

1 - 14 ounce pkg firm tofu, drained and mashed
11 ounces ground turkey
2 Tbsp and 2 tsp dry bread crumbs
1 - 1 ounce envelope dry onion soup mix
1 Tbsp and 1 tsp minced green pepper
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbsp and 1 tsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp and 1 tsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a loaf pan. (This is because it's so low-fat.) In bowl mix tofu, turkey, bread crumbs, soup mix, green pepper and eggs. Place mixture in loaf pan. Bake meatloaf 30 minutes in the preheated oven.

In saucepan over low heat, blend brown sugar, soy sauce and mustard. Drizzle mixture over loaf, and continue baking 25 minutes, or to internal temperature of 180 degrees. Let meatloaf rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Sit down to previously set family dining surface. Say grace. Do not tell family what they are eating, unless of course there's a subway at the end of your street too. Enjoy!


  posted at 7:47 AM

Wednesday, April 02, 2008
The Lord's Prayer

Too delightful to keep to myself - enjoy!

  posted at 7:33 PM

Sharin' the Love!
I know this won't thrill the masses at large, there will only be a very few of you who take notice, then actually check it out.

Those few of you are going to be hugging my neck through cyber-space. It's only April and I already know this is going to be my VERY FAVORITE OVER THE TOP WONDERFUL NEW THING OF 2008, seriously.

I used to stink at managing money. It wasn't so much that I was bad at it, I just didn't know how. Sort of like doing Algebra, except that I'm still bad at that one, even after being taught. Still, you can't really be bad at something you haven't learned, you just remain in that constant state of ignorance. So that's where I was with money. Sort of that thinking, I still have checks, how can I be broke?

Then we realized we had to send kids to college, and since none of them are very homely, we realized they'd likely fall in love and get married, and choose not to elope. They'd also need a decent used car, since I wasn't about to give up my beloved minivan 7 days a week, nor run and pick them up at midnight every weekend. That was going to take finances, and since we're of the type of family that had limited funds coming in, i.e. normal, I figured I better read some nerdy books and learn how to manage it better. At least DH liked that option better than him running out and getting two or three more jobs.

So I did. Way back when, about fifteen years or more ago. And since I try to keep this life Christ-centered, I went with the Larry Burkett method. His method is a great method. So great that Dave Ramsey, the present christian money-guru followed it too, only he jazzed it up, swinging bigger clubs at debt and cursed car leasing, and building savings and retirement, etc. So we adjusted our Larry Burkett to add some Dave Ramsey. There was also Mary Hunt's version, 'Debt-Free Living'. She spoke as someone who'd been there, done that, and lived to tell about it. Although why on earth her husband didn't flat kill her for the credit card debt she ran up is beyond me. It had a LOT of zeros after it! I love learning from others' mistakes, so I combined all their methods, and came up with something that has worked really well. All the kids graduated from college, we paid for it, they all got to march down the aisle in white dresses or tuxes, and they drove semi-crappy cars (or are still driving them) so that they learned to take care of them, and handle their money before they took on car payments. So it worked.

But it WORE ME OUT! The Larry Burkett method is really a great one, God-honoring, it pays off debt, you get to give money to God, and you get to eat too, not in that order by the way. It was so paper/labor intensive my 'bill paying' had begun to take hours and hours every week. I always knew how much money we had, to the penny, we had savings, bills were paid, but man alive I was spending way too much time on it.

So Hallelujah, my middle daughter, who I'd taught to budget before she married, and was too familiar with the labor-intensive system I was using, told me about a product - Mvelopes. A product online, with cyber-envelopes. It's connected to your banking institution, so anytime you make a purchase with your debit card, or write a check, or have money deposited into your account, it knows within a day or so, and you can move it around into these virtual envelopes. I was able to go in and set up a budget, make specific envelopes for every area of our budget. I can see within minutes how much money we have, in every area, and print out a little slip to throw in my wallet, so when I get to the mall and want to know whether to buy the shoes or not, I pull out the slip and I know. Yes or No. Or go out to dinner, or buy a book, or anything.

So for the very few of you who are looking to improve what you're doing, and would like something slick, wonderful, fabulous, accurate, easy, and affordable, check it out! The website is: I wasn't asked to review this by anyone, but I have to tell you, I'm over the moon on this one. It's just too good to keep to myself. I pay something like $15 a month, but when this three month subscription runs out I'm switching over to the yearly subscription which cuts in in half. Because I'm all about being wise with the finances God has provided

For the first time in about 35 years, I didn't have to balance the checkbook this month, nor did I record a single debit transaction. Amazing how much time not doing just those two steps saved me. So if a new grandbaby were to appear this calendar year, they would be my favorite thing of 2008. Otherwise, this is IT! I'm in love, I'm in love, and spending a lot less time at my desk shuffling papers.

Algebra? Algebra be damned! I almost flunked it in high school, took it in college and aced it, and still don't see much need for it. So Algebra - not so much. Mvelopes, you won't be prying that one out of my fingers anytime soon.


  posted at 8:14 AM

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    Girl Raised in the South

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