Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Arround the House

 We've been doing a lot of work and things are coming together around here. The entire time we've lived here we've benefited from the previous owner's vision and planning in the garden. We've got blooms coming out everywhere, some whose names we don't even know!
 Lately we're sprucing up indoors and out. Here's a view of the front of River's Edge with the crisply improved clipped hedges and bushes. Fidget says she wants to make a bed out of one of the bushes flanking the front walk.
This weekend we painted the siding on the outside of the laundry room. We picked a blue slightly brighter than what is on the house now. We like the brighter look even if you can't see it in this photo taken after a barbecue lunch this weekend. 

We are currently having the kitchen and downstairs bathroom redone because of the havoc wreaked on them by the broken ice maker line. Soon we'll have gorgeous inside pictures to show!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

After the Storm

 Here are more pictures of pottery and glass gleanings from our walks at the Elizabeth River at the end of our street. Many days Fidget and I jog down there and back. But this morning neither of us is feeling well so we just walked. There is comfort in walking together, taking her hand just to be sure she's still there.

We weathered a sudden fierce storm two days ago. Yesterday when we went to the river there was pottery and glass scattered all over the shore, way up high where the storm waters had surged. Our streets frequently flood in stormy weather, and we saw where the neighborhood water had run over the rocks down into the river. 
We have been through a lot lately, our family. Deaths, anger, grieving, and water damage from the broken ice maker line are but some of the things that have worn us out emotionally and physically. These challenges leave us feeling weak, but ultimately point us to the source of all strength and perfection, Jesus, our Redeemer. 

It would be so nice if things didn't break and we didn't disappoint each other, if dear friends and loved ones wouldn't die. But we are sinners in a broken world, and to expect only good is unrealistic, it sets us up for despair. I was musing on these things with a dear kindred spirit this morning and she wrote : So fun for you and Fidget to find more treasures after the storm.. isn’t that how it goes with ’storms’. They unearth the deep things in us and God reveals the treasure He is in us. 
I am so thankful for a friend who helps me see that in any storm there are treasures to be had. If I cling to God, He will reveal the treasures in His time.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Cookie of the Week

Here's a look at the Pres' lunch box treat. Well, he won't have these. I just ate these. But there are more for him, I guarantee.

This week's recipe is one I clipped from a Martha Stewart Magazine in early 2008. While I could not locate it on her website, I found Barbara Bakes had it and it is here if you want to try it. She's got a lovely site to browse, with lots of goodies in no way limited to cookies.
 When Fig was in Montessori school I brought these on one of my assigned snack days. They were a big hit and I have made them ever since. The nice thing about these is they're so much fluffier and lighter in the mouth than the usual peanut butter cookie. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Daily Bread

One of my favorite ways to love my family to nurture them is to bake their breads. This recipe has only 6 cups of bread but makes two enormous loaves- or 3 smaller ones- the likes of which I've never seen before. That and the secret ingredient of maple syrup were big points in its favor. Here are photos from two recent batches of Brown Bagger Bread from Bread Machine Magic by Linda Rehberg and Lois Conway.
Can you see why Fidget called this one the mushroom loaf? Since I've never had a bread machine I never imagined I would like bread recipes from a bread machine book but I am so glad my friend Lacey shared this one with me. I just might have to get the book. The only adjustment is that it gives no temperature or baking time so I had to guess. But I tried 375 degrees for 30 minutes and it's been a winner.

God delights in giving His children good things just like a parent enjoys cherishing and lavishing gifts on their children. One of the best things about being a mom and wife is doing things that delight my kid and her daddy, The Pres. This daily bread reminds us of God's love and how he treasures us. And how very short a time it will be until we are rejoicing with Him in Heaven.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Snack Time

 Fidget is always hungry lately, a good sign of a growing girl. Here is a picture of her snack early this week. She adores tiny tomatoes and peanuts. 

The other night when making pastry for chicken potpies, I got the idea to cut the crackers out with Pooh cookie cutters. The recipe calls for refrigerated pie crust, which I do use on occasion, but I am a baker who loves to make anything involving dough. 

Making our own crust is more delicious, but how much better it was with lovable character crackers! It made snack time fun the next day too, when she got a leftover Pooh cracker. I think we're on to something. Our potpies will never be the same.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Gift for a Friend and the Cookie of the Week

My dear friend Karen received these fingerless gloves from me this weekend. She lives in California, so she doesn't need much real winter clothing, but these will be fun and give her just enough warmth come fall and winter. It's the same pattern I've been enamored of lately and I was glad to hear she likes the color scheme and the fit. I used Cascade 220 yarn which is an easy-care superwash wool. 

I love making these gloves because the pattern is not hard, so I don't accidentally start knitting the wrong row when I bring it to Fidget's karate class. That used to happen with the other cabled gloves I made, so I prefer this one. Keeping fingers busy at home and on the go is important to me. Even when I am relaxing, I love to knit and do other productive activities. 

Because the Pres is working away from his office for two months he doesn't  have the luxury of his office microwave and refrigerator. For once Fidget and I are eating all the leftovers we can stand and the Pres is taking a sack lunch. It's been a long while since he's taken bag lunches but I am getting back into the swing of things and trying to keep them interesting. I've started making a batch of cookies every week to send with him. The first weeks I made brownies, Rice Krispy treats, blondies, and chocolate chip cookies. This week I made giant cherry oatmeal cookies from an old Better Homes and Gardens recipe from 1995. The best thing about these is they're chewy. If the Pres loves them, you know they're good!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Gifts and Triumphs

 We celebrated the weekend yesterday morning with poached eggs. They may be run of the mill to some folks, but poached eggs are something I've never been able to get right in 18 1/2 years of marriage, not even when Mumsy bought me a real live egg poacher appliance that buzzed when they were supposed to be ready. Turns out these little nifties from King Arthur Flour are just what the baker ordered. Finally, eggs with runny middles for the Pres! Of course when they were done we sat down to eat and I forgot all about taking pictures.
 However there was plenty of time for pouring tea. Last week I talked to my dear old chip from high school, middle school, and come to think of it, elementary school, and she commiserated with me about my friend who'd died. And I commiserated with her about the tough eggs she works with down there in South Florida. Next thing you know, I'm unwrapping an extravagant care package from said chip.
 It came complete with hand knitted, cleverly embellished tea cozy, traditional British tea pot, tea, honey, diffuser and more.
Here's the inside fabric on the tea cozy. I've never had a cozy before and was surprised to find out that it really works. Not only that, a cutie like this one is sure to cheer me up no matter what the morning holds.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


I am hesitant to leave thoughts of my friend behind. I spent most of last week asking God why He allowed her to do what she did. But He doesn't have to answer to me. And though my friend's death is tragic, I can't stay in thoughts of her constantly. Like it or not we are here, we are the living, and there is work to do.
 Some days, we may not feel we have much to give. We may question what we are even doing here. What can I possibly contribute? The truth is that God does not need our efforts. But he is pleased to use us as we offer ourselves and whatever we have to give.
I have been reminded of that on days when Fidget and I run to the river lately. Often we find intriguing vintage pottery shards. The river's offerings vary but we use all we can get.

 We bring them back to the house and put them in flower pots.
Some days there is a bunch. Other days we might only find one or two tiny pieces. This is like the days we may have much to offer a friend who is in need. We give and are happy we can be of use.

But on others, all we may have is a listening ear, or hands to hold and pray with. God is not disappointed in what we have to give. He will use whatever we have.

My sadness of last week has reminded me how firmly anchored I am in the rock of God my Savior. He put us here for a reason. I am here to encourage and grow others in their faith as I worship the Lord and He grows my faith too. Though I am sad for my friend, I know I am secure in God's grip. If this is all I know for sure as an alien in a world which is by turns exhilarating, sad, and disappointing, it is enough.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Lost Treasure

When I met my friend, this lovely young mother came to me one day after Bible study because I had shared openly about trying to commit suicide while I was growing up. I had turned to numerous destructive behaviors to dull the pain, but it always came back. I shared with the ladies at the study that I was diagnosed with manic depression, got lots of counseling, and was put on medicine that I was supposed to be on forever. The only problem was, the medicine didn't help. Nothing helped until I became a Christian. After that, God removed the depression from my life and I have not tried to commit suicide anymore. So I thought it was the same with my friend Jessica.

She wrote me a letter after Bible study, telling me that her mom had committed suicide a few years earlier. She told me she was in AA/NA because of her previous destructive behaviors. She felt free to share that with me because I had friends in AA and NA, and I acknowledged that I had tried all sorts of worldly methods to keep the pain from returning. 

But with me, once I was a Christian this dark pain was immediately removed. Yes, it is a miracle, but I explain it as the means God needed to use to bring me to an understanding of the extent of my sinfulness, and my inability to save myself even a little bit. Once I was desperate for Him and turned to Him, he graciously removed it. He didn't have to do that. He doesn't do that with everyone. He didn't do that with Jessica.

After awhile I did not see Jessica often because she went to a different church and then my family was stationed in another state. We lost touch. What I was told is that she was hospitalized for manic depression for a month, and when she left the hospital her family came back to our church last Sunday. She told the pastor's wife, a dear friend of hers, that she thought she was getting better. The next day she was found in a hotel room, having overdosed on prescription medicine. 

Having become a Christian I did not think about suicide anymore. It didn't occur to me that anyone else would either. The assurance of my salvation is a treasure, something I feel protects me. It helps me see that no matter how bad things get here, I have but little time to wait until I am in heaven rejoicing at the throne of God. 

How I wish I had known Jessica still had those dark thoughts. I am sure I am not the only one saying that today. If only... But though the enemy clouded her mind and obscured the treasure that was her salvation, making it seem lost forever, I know that my friend is with Jesus now. The lost treasure was not lost, it is the thing that carried her to the throne, a weak and weary wayfarer who I knew and loved for just a little while. Yet I know I will see her again, in God's time. In the meantime I am praying for Jessica's husband and her three little children. May God protect them and their treasure until He returns. 

Even so, come, Lord Jesus. We need you.