Saturday, February 28, 2009

Growing My Wonder

Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God:
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round it, and pluck blackberries.

~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning

We all know the feeling of a season dragging on. It may be a season of the year or a season of life.

Recently, I shared that I have been wandering about in a winter of my mind. This winter of mind is much like the winter outside my door. I've hunkered down not wanting to do much beyond the walls of my home. My sphere revolves around me and my beloved and this place. Marriage has been wonderful, but no marriage, however great, can take the place of an awakened spirit. In fact, I believe that both of us have been struggling with this winter of mind. You, too?

So what a relief to find a book that perfectly described the condition and teaches a way to work beyond it. I identify with the following paragraph. My name could well be placed in the parentheses and it would be accurate.

(They) are indifferent, stoic. We recognize them [the wonderless] by their fat hearts, dull ears, sluggish eyes. They have large empty spaces between their thoughts and connections to a purpose larger than themselves. They fight to get and keep control. They stand rigidly stationed at the hub of their universe. Nothing's sacred except what affects them personally.

A Piece of the Solution:

Wonder reminds the wonderless of the unknown, those things out of their control or outside of their experience: mysteries to be solved, meanings to unravel, spiritual realities to face.

A sense of wonder can be a bother. It takes time and energy to see deeply. Wondering disrupts peace and tranquility. Wonder stirs fires. Wonder opens strange doors. Wonder finds stories in the forest when it is so much easier to plow through and get on home.

So this is why I've been riding around in a truck that rumbles through town plowing snowbanks.

It will be why I have a date in March with my grands to play in the mud. I mean it. We're going to get good and dirty. I am making rivers and dams and we're going to sail twigs and boats downstream at the end of the drive you see here.

It's the reason that my computer is going to be shut down more often. The television has already been given the boot.

It'll be why I am scanning the clouds, breathing deeper, and looking at the moon in the middle of the night.

It's why I'll continue to join my beloved for morning devotions when I don't always "feel" like it.

In the end, my hope is that I will have found that I have been on a perpetual quest for wonder...that I have enjoyed a sense of awe in this world that God has given and in the people that He allows us to know and love.

I'm not going to limit my wonder to the little screen before my face nor the larger one that sends out messages that I don't wish to receive. I'm going to slow down. I'm going to listen to more birdsong and not only symphonies or praise music.

In the end, too, I hope that I will have walked closer to God. That I will praise Him more, thank Him more, worship Him more, appreciate Him more, know Him more.

Quotes have been taken from Awakening Your Sense of Wonder: Discovering God in the Ordinary by Janet Chester Bly.

Please join Melissa at The Inspired Room for more discussions on The Disconnect Challenge:Revisited.

Friday, February 27, 2009

A Valentine Arrives



My win from Miss Sandy at Quill Cottage arrived yesterday! What a beautifully packaged delight it was. The protective packaging was old patterns (I must check them out carefully) and strips of music. And, as if the woven heart embellished with lace, buttons, and an adorable key charm weren't enough, the heart was filled to the brim with handwritten recipes and newspaper recipe clippings that Miss Sandy tells me are from her personal collection. I am so touched by her thoughtful gesture.



We'll be revisiting this once the rhubarb grows high enough to be harvested because there is a recipe for Rhubarb Roll that I am definitely going to try.

Thank you, Miss Sandy!

Enjoy your Friday!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Rushing It?


It may look like this outside...

But inside is another story...



Am I rushing it?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Such a Fun Day It Was



First things first...the video I shared yesterday was not the video that my beloved wished me to share. The one below is.

Sooo, it was my birthday yesterday. I'm still ♣*♥@ years and one day older than Lovella. She offered such a good example of how to lovingly provide photos of ourselves for our families...you know what I mean? At some point, we become invisible women. At some point when the hair is graying, the derriere has slipped another inch or the chin has gone slack. Lovella says that smiling is her best beauty tip. I say something else entirely, but see for yourself.



Exactly! Hide behind the camera and shoot into the mirror. Do NOT under any circumstances hand the camera over to another person.

Speaking of which, I received the best tip ever on picture taking from Joni @ Cote de Texas. I included that link because Joni shows us exactly how it's done though that is not the topic of her post. Look carefully for pictures of Joni. I refer you now to the final comment on Vanity, Thy Name Is... for Joni's great advice. Some of us need it; some of us don't need it yet, but if all goes well, everyone will need it some fine day.

My best birthday gift? Well, let me just say that my family is very generous and I love them all. I'll be going to the movies and enjoying a gift or two on their dime and I have flowers, books, dishcloths, tea towels, perfume, and decorative things. But the best gift was that my baby grand said "Nonni" for the first time. It warmed my heart!

Oh, should I be concerned about the message on the birthday bag? Don't forget to listen to the video...just a few seconds. (Please don't listen to it over and over as some around here have been doing.)

Have a great Wednesday!

Quick Stop Wittle Whoop

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Nothing But Blue Skies



Is there anything more beautiful than a vivid blue sky against snow?

Today is an adventure day. We're off for breakfast and wherever the mood strikes us. We won't be going in the truck, but I thought I'd give you an idea of what our plowing day was like yesterday. You'll see two houses that are probably very familiar to you by now if you have visited me before. Have a fun day!

(Edited to Add: For whatever reason, I can't figure out how to get a video on the same post. Still, it's just below so not so bad.)

Nothing But Blue Skies~Video

Monday, February 23, 2009

Scrabble



Don't you just love a good game of Scrabble? Me, too, but that's not what's making me so happy about this two-dollar Scrabble game. Nooo, not at all. Now I can do this:











...and in case I forget where it is...



Best of all...



Create a wonderful and warm day...

Edited to Add: And doesn't Scrabble provide the perfect way to wish a very special blogger this?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Crème Brûlée and Butter Chicken

The crème brûlée was so good! For Christmas I gave John a Crème Brûlée Set because I'd he'd been dying for one. Turns out that I shouldn't have bothered with the set because the ramekins that came with the set are ridiculously small and the butane "torch" is as well. When it came time to fire off the brown sugar topping, John used the great big torch. Very exciting! As you can see, I'm just using Pyrex custard cups, which gives a more reasonable portion. In case you've never tried making this dessert, let me assure you that it was very easy and the results were over the moon. If you ever need to impress guests...

Here's the recipe that I used, which I've had floating about so long that I don't know where it's from. (Perhaps an old Country Living magazine?)

Crème Brûlée

-Ingredients-

√ 2 cups heavy whipping cream
√ ½ cup sugar
√ 1 TBS real vanilla extract
√ 5 large egg yolks
√ 12 tsp brown sugar

-Method-

* Heat oven to 325°
* Place six ¾-cup ramekins in a 13x9x2" baking pan.
* Mix cream, sugar, and vanilla in a heavy medium saucepan.
* Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to a simmer.
* Cover pan and reduce heat to very low and simmer gently for ten minutes.

* Whisk yolks in bowl until blended well.
* Gradually whisk yolks into hot cream mixture (after the mixture has already simmered for ten minutes) until just blended.

* Divide custard between ramekins.
* Pour enough hot water into the baking pan until the water is halfway up the sides of the dishes.
* Transfer the baking pan to the oven.
* Bake custards for 35 minutes. Custards should be nearly set in the center when gently shaken.

* Use tongs or a spatula to remove the custards from the pan.
* Cool for 30 minutes.
* Chill at least three hours and up to two days.

* When ready to serve, sprinkle 2 tsp brown sugar over each custard, place on baking sheet for added protection and either broil to brown or use a butane torch to caramelize the sugar.


All I have to say is yummy!

And, just because a couple of you mentioned the Butter Chicken, I'll toss in that recipe, too.

Butter Chicken

-Ingredients-

☺ 2 beaten eggs
☺ 1 cup crushed Ritz crackers (What's fun about this is that any flavored cracker works...I've tried many different kinds and they all work, just be sure to use a cracker as that's the texture crumb you're looking for.)
☺ ½ tsp garlic salt
☺ ground black pepper to taste
☺ 4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves (I prefer to cut them into strips creating a chicken finger...more sides to coat, in which case, you'll need more crumbs.)
☺ ½ cup butter cut into pieces.

-Method-

* Preheat oven to 375º
* Place eggs and crumbs in two separate bowls.
* Mix cracker crumbs with garlic salt and pepper.
* Dip chicken in eggs.
* Dredge chicken in the crumb mixture until well coated.
* Arrange chicken in a Pam sprayed 9x13 baking dish.
* Place butter over the top of the chicken.
* Bake in oven for 40 minutes or until juices run clear.


Have a happy Saturday and, if you try either of these, please let me know!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Gratitude List

Maybe I didn't exactly celebrate, but I did consider being grateful...this is my gratitude list for a snow day (we're enjoying another today). I really should do these more often because even though a few nasty things crept into the day, a few disappointments, they were far outmatched by the delights. This really must be remembered.

1. After my beloved had been out plowing, shoveling the roofs and the walks, I made him some hot chocolate...from scratch.

2. He brought home some donuts.








3. And together we enjoyed a mid-morning snack. We used our Mr. and Mrs. mugs saved for special occasions. John's daughter sent those to us for a wedding gift.








4. I received an email from my daughter-in-law with a photo of my grands attached.



5. I was able to do a little decorating and some cleaning and organizing.








6. We had Butter Chicken for supper and my dishwasher cleaned up!















7. It was still light outside after five pm.








8. In the evening, I made crème brûlée...











9. using the new ramekins.












10. Such a cheery yellow...can't wait to taste one.











11. It was a wonderful and cozy jammie day.

Have a great weekend, Everyone. I'll catch you another day.

( Blogger always makes creating lists so much fun! Not. =} )

Celebrate Winter?

Spring is the only season that does not arrive a month early.

How pretentious can one be? (That's my own quote.)

It hasn't been a long, hard winter, though my heart hasn't figured that out. I am in some sort of winter in my mind that has lasted much too long. So this morning's snow matched my spirits...chilly.



After Valentine's Day, I changed the message on my little chalkboard immediately...



This morning, I was reminded to slow down, wait, abide, resist the urge to wish time away...

(You may read exactly what we did by following the link to Our Daily Bread on my sidebar.)

Check back tomorrow to see if I was able to do any celebrating.

Enjoy your day whether it be a spring one or, like mine, very much a winter one.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Johnny's

Oh boy! Look what came in the mail on Valentine's Day!


Er...let's try again...


If I could just move Fioré's behind a bit...


There! Johnny's Seed Catalog is a delight through and through. This year, I'm most interested in these...



If you visit Johnny's, they'll send you a catalog of your own. I'm certain that you'll love it as much as Fioré and I do.



Oh, and see why I'm in love with herb disks right *here* on this video. Fascinating!

While we're discussing plants...let me share this info on Christmas cactuses/cacti.

Christmas cactus will bloom if given long uninterrupted dark periods, about 12 hours each night. Begin the dark treatments in about mid-October to have plants in full bloom by the holidays. You can place the plants in a dark closet from about 8 P.M. - 8 A.M. each night for 6-8 weeks or until you see buds forming. Christmas cacti will also bloom if they are subjected to cool temperatures of about 50 to 55 degrees F, eliminating the need for the dark treatments. Plants should be blooming for the holidays if cool treatments are started by early November.
Source

Guess my sister was right after all! And, guess what just hit the basement this morning? I'll report back in a month. Will that be in time for Easter?

Happy Tuesday, Everyone!

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Power of Suggestion

Did you have a good Valentine's Day? I'm scooting around this morning to snoop and see what you have to say about it. My day was lovely, but I want to tell you about my Valentine's Eve. Don't get all **twitterpated, it's just funny. At some point in the night I became aware of my beloved standing over me offering something, something that smelled just like peanut butter. I'll use dialogue as it's so much easier that way.

I: What's that?!

He: A peanut butter sandwich.

I: Why?

He: (somewhat surprised) Because you asked me for one.

I: I asked you for a peanut butter sandwich? When?

He: Just now, you asked me for a piece of bread.

I: Are you kidding me?

He: Nooooo, and I repeated that back to you and you added 'with peanut butter on it.'

I: Well you know what you can do with it!

He: (muttering) Guess I'll be eating a peanut butter sandwich.

It's true love when your beloved eats a peanut butter sandwich that you ordered in the middle of the night. I was telling my son and daughter-in-law about this and my daughter-in-law told me that my son talks all the time in his sleep and that she just has to ignore it. Good advice for my darling, too, I guess. I truly had no idea that I talk/issue orders in my sleep.

Yesterday, I realized once again how powerful my suggestions are. I asked my sister how her Christmas cactus was doing. (Mine has one measly bud and I have followed "the rules" perfectly.) Again, dialogue...

She: Oh my yes, thank you for telling me how to take care of that cactus...it's loaded with blooms and has been blooming for months.



I: It has?!

She: Oh yes! Why within days of bringing it out of the basement it was blooming.

I: Out of the basement?

She: Yes, just like you told me. You said to leave it down there for a couple of months and forget about it.

I: Noooo, that's for geraniums, not for Christmas Cactuses.

At which point, my niece interjected...

"That Cactus was so happy to get out of that cold, dark basement it was willing to do anything."

Hmmmm, in that case, I think mine has earned some time in the basement!

Have a wonderful Monday, Dear Ones.

**twitterpated: excited for no account such as some (you know who you are) were wont to be over my Valentine Tea. Check comments for my response.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Prayer

Prayer is the language of a person burdened with a sense of need. It is the voice of the beggar, conscious of personal poverty, asking of another the things that are needed. It is not only the language of lack, but of felt lack, of lack consciously realized. "Blessed are the poor in spirit," means not only that the fact of poverty of spirit brings the blessing, but also that the poverty of spirit is realized, known, and acknowledged. Prayer is the language of those who need something — something which they, themselves, cannot supply but which God has promised them, and for which they ask. In the end, poor praying and prayerlessness amount to the same thing, for poor praying proceeds from a lack of the sense of need, while prayerlessness has its origin in the same soil. Not to pray is not only to declare there is nothing needed, but to admit to a non-realization of that need. This is what aggravates the sin of prayerlessness. It represents an attempt at instituting an independence of God, a self-sufficient ruling of God out of the life. It is a declaration made to God that we do not need Him, and hence do not pray to Him.

'Do you expect to got to heaven?" asked some one of the devout Scotsman.

'Why, man, I live there,' was the quaint and unexpected reply. It was the pithy statement of a great truth, for all the way to heaven is heaven begun to the Christian who walks near enough to God to hear the secrets He has to impart.

~selections from The Classic Collection on Prayer by E.M. Bounds




Keep on asking and it will be given you; keep on seeking and you will find; keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you.

Matthew 7:7


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

...or as my daughter used to say, "Happy Valentimes Day!"



If you have not yet visited Warm Pie, Happy Home, please do; it's always a happy place where Ruthann dispenses excellent advice and ohhh, that playlist!

Picture Source

Friday, February 13, 2009

Planning a Valentine Tea

I am planning a Valentine Tea for my Beloved. He's pretty much a coffee drinker to the core. Hot chocolate every now and then and, just recently, I've been able to introduce tea. The Chocolate Raspberry Bliss shown is going to feature prominently at my tea party. You can find the mousse recipe I'd like to try at Celestial Seasonings. I've been wandering through Blogdom looking for something to complete the menu...perhaps some tea sandwiches such as my own Garden Patch Sandwiches (in the recipe section of my sidebar) and something more for dessert. Alice at Tea in My Cup (even if she is on an extended break from blogging) is my first stop. Also there are some delicious sounding coffee drinks posted at Kettle and Cup.

I did bake some cookies last evening...not a hit with the man...oh dear. Maybe that frosting will spiff them up. It occurs to me that the most romantic thing about these cookies is not that they are in the shapes of hearts and strawberries, but that they were baked on a silpat "made in France."














Today, I am busily working on Valentines...most especially the one for my grandmother as she is the one who adores this holiday. I'll be selecting one from Quill Cottage because Miss Sandy always provides great tutorials.

Have a wonderful Friday...gotta skate!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

My Favorite "Bulletin" Board



A week ago, I was feeling much less than enthusiastic about blogging. Today I am positively giddy about it. The joy of blogging, for me, really depends on whether systems are up and at'em. I am sure that all those who read and love blogs appreciate Blogdom for the tremendous bounty of ideas. Creativity thrives in Blogdom.

I find plenty of material to think about and lots of ideas at WindLost, one of my favorite blogs. And it's not because Terri and I share similar tastes either. In fact, her taste is much more elevated and sophisticated than my own. Spending time there is a delicious escape, which I tremendously enjoy. But don't let that fool you as she can write with such poignancy that she'll break your heart. That's how I first found her when I read of her experience on a plane in danger of crashing. (See September 26, 2007)

Lately, Terri's been doing a series on office makeovers and she's working on her own home office, too. You'll find the above photo on her These Are a Few of My Favorite Things post on January 2, 2009. Well don't you know that this idea just kept spinning around in my old head until it finally resulted in my going to actually look for the wonky old frame. I knew I already had one, but where?! Found it in the basement in pretty tough shape and home to a spider or two.

This is where John came in..."John, this old frame...can you fix it?" (Course I know that he can fix anything!)

I didn't think much more about it until a few days ago when I visited John's house where I thought he'd be working on ceilings or something. No, poor man had taken the frame all apart, recut each section, and glued it all back together using some special exterior framing to hold it together. Until today, I didn't even realize all that he had done for the sake of my request. I feel so loved...



Yesterday morning when I propped my "new" frame up in the bay window, I was so happy with how it looked right there that it almost didn't make it the rest of the way to the sewing room wall, but it did and I just love it! It's the best bulletin board I've ever had.

The rest will be a little picture story — simple and sweet.










(First bulletin photo allowed to stand after much consideration.)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Another Kitchen Story

Sure. Like I'm going there again...

Okay, I'll tell you this much of what I learned. Supposedly, the number one way to tell that a kitchen is outdated is if the appliances are anything but steel. While steel appliances are not in my budget, this doesn't prevent me from putting my best foot forward to decorate my refrigerator.



There's that charming calendar thingy that we use for writing notes. Important stuff like the mortgage is due! Then there's the handy-dandy scissors holder. I just made that today as the other one cleverly crafted from a pot holder belonged to my sister. So did the red-handled scissors that were in them for that matter. They're packed now. For mine, I used one of those crocheted dishcloths that are ubiquitous. I have a lovely number of them and use them in many different ways, but never as dishcloths. I defy any one of you to tell me that it's not simply sweet!

Then there's that darling little sampler there...



Alison at Posie Gets Cozy tells all about how to find and do one of your own on her January 18, 2009 post. I think it's a great way to design an embroidered pillow or something. If nothing else, it's a great way to waste an hour.

Have a wonderful Tuesday!