Saturday, February 28, 2009

Awe Inspiring

I had to drive Rhett to our church yesterday afternoon during the evening rush hour to catch his bus for a winter camp weekend. I do not enjoy Washington D.C. traffic! It is one of the things Washingtonians get to lament about and rightly so. After dropping him off I had the pleasure of spending 45+ minutes on the beltway with the other crazies, but added to my pleasure were two small people in the seats behind me questioning when all of this driving would be over. A question I was asking myself!

My husband had called to say that he was already home and I struck a deal to drop the girls off and steal away for a few minutes to the library before it closed early. He agreed. I got a couple of books and sat in the car perusing them...just enjoying the quiet. I began driving home and was waiting at a stop light when I noticed the glorious sunset over the clock tower of the library. The upper atmosphere was a deep blue and the white swaths of intermittent clouds seemed stationary. They looked like a painter had used a wide brush to lay his strokes against the far-away canvass. In the lower atmosphere there was "a storm a brewin'." The white fluffy clouds were moving across the sky and I thought, "they're going to get to where they're going faster than I will." All of this splendor was bathed with a pink/melon colored hue that was awe inspiring!

I then began thinking about how people are drawn to sunsets. There is a lot of beauty in the world, but we as human beings seem inexpressibly drawn especially to sunsets. I know when I look upon one, I feel a peace and calmness. I'm mesmerized by the colors and the quickly fading sun. In my heart I express to God my thankfulness for the days He has given me and enjoy the peaceful moment to remember that the coming and going of the sun are in His hands.

Often my favorite sunsets are at the beach. I think that is true for many people. In those moments I think about the vastness of the ocean and how big and awesome creation expresses it's Creator. As I get older, I appreciate all that He has made more and more. Psalm 19 says it best:

1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.
3 There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.
4 Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,
5 which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
6 It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat.

Then the passage transitions to the well-known verses about God's testimony. Although I generally do not care for The Message, in this instance I like how the verses on God's testimony seem so seamless to the previous verses about His creation.

The revelation of God is whole and pulls our lives together.
The signposts of God are clear and point out the right road.
The life-maps of God are right, showing the way to joy.
The directions of God are plain and easy on the eyes.
God's reputation is twenty-four-carat gold, with a lifetime guarantee.
The decisions of God are accurate down to the nth degree.

God displays Himself to us everyday. Sometimes I think it just takes a sunset to help us realize it. Challenge yourself to look at how He is revealing Himself to you today!

(last sunset of 2008 on a Florida beach)

Friday, February 27, 2009

What a cake!

(A creation of Katie's)

At a recent Valentine's party they had a playdough table. (By the way, what a great idea! They also had a bingo table and Legos on a sheet on the floor - these three stations were big hits!) I was having a hard time tearing my two girls away from the playdough. (Maybe because it's so rarely seen at my house!) I sat down and chatted with other moms and the girls kept coming to get me to see their creations. The one above deserved a picture for posterity! Wow, what a cake! I wonder if she's been watching too many Food Network cooking shows? Is that even possible?! Nah! I'm not sure if that's a dinosaur with a dismembered head...might be. He's got lots of love around him though. I'll have to get back to you on that one!

Update: Checked with the cook and she has one demented mommy! She said it was a heart cake (duh, Valentine's Day, Mom!). The tall thing sticking up in the back that I thought was a neck was a birthday candle. The smiley face up front has a birthday candle on his head too. The back left of the cake I thought looked like a dinosaur leg...she said it was hearts with beads around it. Quite the decorator, Katie! Good job! Mom, you should check with the cook before you START blogging!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Bouquet Redo

My husband sent me multi-colored roses for Valentine's Day, but when they arrived they were a little weary from their travels. Some of the buds opened that afternoon, but within a day and a half they looked like they had see a week and a half of trauma. I assured him it was fine; flowers are always a welcome treat. (Plus, the small box of chocolates were heavenly!) He even pulled this all off while really sick - what a sweet guy!

When the company sent him a follow-up survey asking about the shipment he filled out the form! Yay, honey!! The company said the flowers did not perform to their standards and asked when a new shipment could be sent to our home. So, a bouquet redo...

These roses look to be in better shape and I can hardly wait until they open. I get to celebrate Valentine's Day all over again. Thanks, Mark!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Recipe Organization

Two of my favorite interests are organizing and cooking. I've had a variety of family and friends express interest in my recipe organization so I thought I'd share what I do.

When I find a recipe I like, I clip it out and put it in a corresponding manila folder. Some categories I have are: appetizer, bread, chicken, salads, dessert, holiday, etc. Those folders are then put into an expandable plastic file holder and housed in my kitchen next to my cookbooks.

If my family likes something new that I've tried I then take the recipe to my computer. I save a copy of it in Word under a Recipes file. I print off a half sheet copy, hole punch it and stick it in one of two 1/2 sheet 3-ring binders in my kitchen. These are also housed by my cookbooks. *I usually wait until I have several to add to the computer and binder and do a bunch at a time.

I have two 1/2 sheet 3-ring binders that are now my own personal cookbooks. Even if I get a recipe out of a published cookbook on my shelf I still reprint it and put it in my own notebook. This is for easy reference and I don't waste time trying to remember where a recipe is. (I'm still looking for an amazing chocolate pie recipe I made two Christmases ago!)

Another benefit from this system is when someone likes the food they've eaten and they want a copy of the recipe I have three choices. I can attach the recipe in an email to them, print them off a copy or give them the copy from my notebook and reprint a copy for myself at a later time.

One additional note - I reference where the recipe originated from at the bottom of each recipe. For examples, I might have:

Recipe from: Great-Aunt Virginia
Recipe from: Betty Crocker Cookbook, p. 93

I've had relatives ask for full copies of my cookbooks and they bring them back for updates. I've also printed off my favorites and made one notebook as a gift to new brides. Personal tried-and-true recipes are always a welcome gift.

What are some of your organizational tips?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Gone With Somethin' But It's Not The Wind

I'd like to introduce you to my family. I've been married to Mark for 20 years. He is the yin to my yang. He's logical and often unemotional. I wear "emotional" like a new perfume and logical...let's not go there. Mark likes adventure; I prefer cozy-ing up in my home. Mark loves to try new food; I order the same thing every time I go out-to-eat. He's a patient listener; I'm an avid talker. Mark is a techie; I'm technology-challenged. Mark is friendly; I am more reserved until I get to know you (then Mark and I switch roles.) He's funny on purpose (loves the puns!); I'm funny on accident. So besides the usual "opposites attract," we share a love of reading, cooking, learning and music. We make each other laugh and think - sometimes at the same time. He was and will always be my best friend. Plus, he's good looking! I'm a blessed woman!

Mark and I have four children. Our eldest is Ashley, a freshman away at a Christian University. Our only son, Rhett, is a sophomore in high school. Katie is in first grade and Tara is in kindergarten. The younger three I homeschool, as I did their older sister.

Gone With The Wind fans may recognize that my children’s names are characters in the book/movie. That was by accident until Tara came along. How do you do that by accident? Let me share…

We loved the name Elizabeth Ashley, but didn’t want anyone to shorten the name Elizabeth. So we just switched the order and Ashley got her name.

When we were expecting Rhett a friend of ours named their newborn son Reese. We found Reese in the baby name book and it said Rhett was the Welsh form of Reese. Hmm. We looked up Rhett and it meant enthusiastic. Rhett also sounded good with the family name of Anthony. We loved it and a truly enthusiastic son was born.

Eight and a half years later God gave us the gift of a baby girl. We had dear friends who had just named their little girl Katherine Grace. (Thank Goodness, our friends have good taste in names!) Katherine means pure and we felt it was fitting to name our late-in-life little blessing the same. In so many ways it was “pure grace” she was now in our family. We call her Katie, just like Gerald O’Hara called his daughter, “Katie Scarlet O’Hara…” Argh!

Fifteen months later another baby girl arrived. Between the two girls I sat with pen and paper and watched Gone With The Wind writing down each name so as to avoid naming my fourth child after a movie character. My husband began the appeals, “She’ll feel left out!” He suggested Melanie and call her Mel. That did not appeal. Other family members generously offered suggestions from the movie…Prissy, Pitty Pat or a combo of both. (Not going there “initial-wise.”) Then one day Mark said, “Just put it over the top and call her Tara.” I gave up my love of other non-GWTW names and Tara Victoria became the fourth classic-southern-movie-character-namesake of the family.

Movie or not, if you knew my kids, their names fit them perfectly. (Do we grow into our names? I wonder.) Ashley, Rhett, Katie & Tara – our four gifts from God.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Why Not!

For the past couple of years I've toyed with the idea of starting a blog. I've occasionally enjoyed reading the blogs of others - some family, some friends, some strangers - and wondered what prompted them to share their life in this format. I've heeded my husband's warning to my oldest child as she launched into Face Book that "once it's out there, it's out there!" Then he started his own blog!

I've always been a writer. From my preschool years I was always happiest with paper and pen, crayon, marker or pencil in hand. I began journaling in 6th grade when my English teacher would make us journal 10 minutes every day. You couldn't put your pen down and ponder in class, so there were a lot of journal entries describing the boys in the adjoining rows, but that daily exercise of putting thoughts into writing was such a wonderful gift to me. My Bible, my journal and my pen have been and are some of the greatest comforts in my life. They are actually a lot more than just comforts, but that's another blog entry.

I've read blogs that are inspiring, blogs that are funny, blogs that inform, and blogs that just share life's journey - the good and the bad. I've read poetry and seen beautiful photographs; I've admired handmade crafts and decorated rooms. I've seen newborns, the elderly and all the ages in between. What a treat to have a view into so many people's lives! I've been enriched, challenged, entertained and blessed by the blogs I've read. So I thought, "Why Not!" I'll open my journal/life up to you and hopefully, I'll be able to enrich, challenge, entertain or bless you as we share together. Happy Reading!