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Wherein you will find posts with humor, photos, reviews, occasional rants and journalistic entries of interest to me alone but that I hope will touch you, the reader, in some way. I remain sincerely yours,
A Work in Progress

Monday, May 31, 2010

GOD BLESS THE USA (SOLDIER TRIBUTE)

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Simple Woman's Daybook: May's End


FOR TODAY

Outside my window...
The greens are greener, the birds songs more urgent, the lawn freshly mowed.  The lilacs fading, the beach roses in bloom.  A working vehicle and sunlight.

I am thinking...
How very sad I am for the family whose baby passed away today.

I am thankful for...
Sunshine, the health and well-being of our family, work for my husband and another day to glorify God.  

                  From the kitchen...
A bit of a mess, but a happy one from friends joining us for supper last night.

I am wearing...
My old jeans and the black shirt I stole from my sister long ago.

I am creating...
A lesson plan for Ambleside with Jenna next year.

I am going...
Absolutely nowhere today, just the way I like it.

I am reading...

I am hoping...
That my sister in law is doing well.

I am hearing...
The bubbling of the fish tanks, the hum of my computer, Jenny turning pages in her book and Rowan practicing worship songs on piano and singing.

Around the house...
It seems oddly still today with our kitten at the vets to be neutered.

One of my favorite things...
A hot cup of coffee in the stillness of the morning.

A few plans for the rest of the week:
Thursday park day, finish lesson planning and grocery shopping.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...
 The Simple Woman's Daybook is a beautiful blog.  Here is the invitation from her website.
"Would you like to linger on the simple things...then join me and many others in taking a little look into the day plans and thoughts of those who are focusing on simplicity...beauty of the 'everyday moments'."   So stop on over and check it out.

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Monday, May 24, 2010

White Noise

I often wonder what my husband hears when I am talking to him.  Is it a "wooshing" sort of windy sound, like white noise?  I wonder because I know for a fact he doesn't actually hear a word I am saying.

Case in point.  We are driving to church this morning and I tell him that I am hoping that my mother's birthday presents arrive in the mail on time for her party.  And I begin to tell him that I can remember, as a little girl, her playing these particular albums all the time.  And that I was so thrilled to be able to find them for her and so on.  And he looks over at me and says, "Do you always twiddle your thumbs?  Are you listening to music in your head because your thumbs are just going to a beat, beakedy, beakedy."  And he laughs and keeps driving.
No, "I'm sorry honey, where were you?, or "you were saying"."  Nothing. 

Naturally,  I am taken aback, my feelings are a little hurt.  Here I am sharing from my childhood and all the man can say is "your thumbs are going beakedy, beakedy". 
So I look out the window and wait for him to notice I am pissed.

He looks over and says, "Thanks for all your work doing the coffee service".  And I said, "Whatever."  The man had the nerve to look shocked.  "What's the matter?  And I tell him, "I'm pissed at you!!!"  And he says, (again having the audacity to be puzzled) "What did I do?"  So I explain that here I was, sharing a bit of my childhood memories of my mother and he had broken in with "beakedy, beakedy" and didn't hear a word I said!

He said "I heard the part about hoping her presents got here on time."

"Beakedy, beakedy, whoosh.

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Mom's Birthday Cake or My First Foray into Handpainting a Cake

The cake is for my Mom's 70th birthday party.  Last year was the first time I had done a cake in 20 some-odd years and I made birthday cakes for my Mom and my Mom-in-law.  I guess I got cocky.  So here is the basic plan.

Find a marshmallow fondant recipe that doesn't have huge red flags about what might go wrong if you screw it up.  I think I managed to do that, even watched a video.  I picked up on a secret code which I have added into my version of the final recipe.  It came out really well and is now "relaxing" prior to rolling it out.

 Marshmallow Fondant
16 oz mini Kraft marshmallows
note: these don't come in 16 oz bags so whoever made up these recipes already started with a pain in the ass premise.  FYI, I'm just calling it a bag and a half.
2 lbs confectioners sugar
clear vanilla
enough Crisco to grease a small country
-GREASE microwavable dish and spatula
-GREASE kitchen aid bowl and GREASE dough hook
-put about 3/4 of the sugar in the GREASED mixer bowl
-add 3 tbls water to bowl and microwave marshmallows about 90 seconds, stir, add 2 tsp vanilla
-add marshmallow mix to GREASED mixer bowl and turn on low
-continue adding sugar 1 cup at a time until the mixture is non-sticky (ish) and firm
-move to GREASED surface and using GREASED hands, knead smooth
-put into GREASED plastic wrap and let sit a couple of hours during which time you have to then remove all the GREASE from the entire stinking kitchen.

I made the cakes yesterday so they would be completely cooled to work with this morning.  To make the size pans I am using you need 3 boxes of the yellow butter cake.  That's 9 eggs and 3/4 of a pound of butter folks. 
Cut and filled them with a lovely lemon curd filling.  I bought a really good lemon curd at the market and then goosed it with fresh lemon juice to make it a little more tart.  I wanted a nice contrast to the richness of the cake and the sweetness of the buttercream icing and fondant.  Piped a buttercream dam around the edge before adding the filling to keep things neat.  Here are the two layers dirty iced and ready for fondant.  I know, they don't look like much so far do they?


Get GREASED rolling pin and GREASED table prepared to roll out the fondant. Have GREASE ready for your hands. Yes, you, go do that now.......



Assembled the cake, rolled out the fondant.  Instant issues.  It is WAY more fragile than other fondant but my husband came to the rescue.  He brought me a sheet of thick plastic, we dusted it with cornstarch, rolled it out and easy peasy picked it up and slid it over the cake.  Thanks Mikey, that was a Godsend!!  Let it sit overnight.  Baby steps people, baby steps.

This morning I headed out to my buddy Pam's to to borrow some colors I didn't have, thanks Pam. Got all my stuff ready to go, had the painting I wanted to copy in front of me and began hand-painting my cake.  Finished the dunes and panicked.  Called my friend the artist who lives down the street.  Bless her heart, she literally had 15 minutes to spare and gave me a crash course in watercolor painting.  And the work went on.  Raspberry vodka as a thinning medium for my gel colors sure smelled good!  Got the sides all done and there was the top, blank, white, stark, waiting for inspiration.


So here was my inspiration, the look and feel of this painting reminds me of my Mom and it was my heartfelt desire to find a way to make it happen.  The artist is Carolyn Blish, the book is Drawing Closer.


Now I am no artist, so the child was not happening.  But here is my cake version.  I melted my buttercream a bit and painted it on the clouds, the waves and the surf for texture and detail.


I'm pretty happy with it.  My friend Mike came over and I commandeered his talents into sculpting my gulls, which I then painted,  I did the Sandpiper myself.  Here are a few more detail photos.  I can't wait til my Mom sees it.




Happy Birthday Mom, I hope you like it.

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Jenna's Arbor Day Foundation Membership

I don't get it but the minute she saw the envelope in the mail, she was enchanted.  She spent $10 of her very own money on a membership and read the brochure over and over excitedly extolling it's benefits.
 She chose the 10 flowering trees membership package and has been awaiting their arrival with great anticipation.

 They arrived yesterday afternoon and were kept in a cool place overnight.  This afternoon Mike came home with a tote full of compost to plant them with and the two of them went outside to create a nursery for the baby trees.


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Sunday, May 16, 2010

On the Importance of Handshakes

I am a firm believer that your handshake indicates, to some extent, your character.  It is certainly not the only indicator I use upon a first impression, but it holds a great amount of weight for me.

Let me say quickly that I am not talking about a bone-crushing pissing contest.    That is juvenile and while occasionally amusing, indicates only immaturity and insecurity.

No.  I am speaking about greeting someone in a manner that indicates interest or pleasure at the meeting.  I expect to be looked in the eye and to have my hand shaken in a firm but gentle grip with a "nice to meet you". Or something along those lines.

People who greet me in this manner are those who give me a first impression of likability, believability and character.  

In stark contrast are those who do not.  They look down, offer up a limp, hanging hand and mumble.  While I do not believe that makes them a bad person per se, it gives me a visceral impression of pure negativity.  There is an "ick" factor that just hits me in the gut.  

It colors anything I may already have known or even liked about the person.  I can't help it. 

While I have read no studies on this sort of thing, it has been my experience, to have been correct about the character (or lack thereof) of people who have greeted me in such a manner.
Just the other day, I was proved right again, though I took no pleasure in it. 

So, take a note folks, if it matters to you.  Teach your children to be genuine in their interactions with others so that when they grow up and have a job interview, or meet their girlfriend's parents, their handshake doesn't have the "ick" factor.  

I think no one put it more beautifully than Helen Keller.

The hands of those I meet are dumbly eloquent to me. The touch of some hands is an impertinence. I have met people so empty of joy, that when I clasped their frosty finger-tips, it seemed as if I were shaking hands with a northeast storm. Others there are whose hands have sunbeams in them, so that their grasp warms my heart.
Helen Keller




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Monday, May 10, 2010

Mother's Day 2010

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Mothers Day Thoughts

Interestingly, I had a chat with Jenna yesterday who seemed convinced that Mother's Day can't be as important as my birthday.  And I said to her that I really had nothing to do with being born but becoming a Mother was something I consider an accomplishment.  That birthdays are nice but that celebrating Motherhood was special in a way unlike a birthday.  She didn't get it.  Such is the world when you are 9 years old.  So I got to thinking about motherhood, mine in particular. 

My Curriculum Vitae of Motherhood
I remember my girls birthdays but not the time or their weight.  (Sue me, I was drugged.)

I have lived with them, mothered them and taught them for 13 years and 9 respectively and they are still in one piece.  (Miracles can happen.)

I have borne them inside, worn them as babies and I have carried them from cars, to bed, to the ER and just because I wanted to.  ( I wish I had known how fast they grow.)

There has not been a single night of their lives when I have not brushed their hair off their forehead and kissed them goodnight.  (Even on our worst days, the sight of them sleeping melts my heart.)

I have prayed for them, about them and with them uncountable times in a day. (And I always will.)

I have gone out way of my comfort zone for their benefit.  I have gone to play-dates, the beach and camped for weeks with no running water and a composting toilet.  (Ask anyone who knows me, I hate sand passionately.)

I have been blessed with babies to rock and sing to and read to and I am blessed even now that they will still sit close by while I read to them.  (And wish I could still fit them in my arms and rock them.)

I have spent countless sleepless nights ministering to them when they were ill or upset.  I have held bleeding noses, soothed fevered brows and washed off vomit.  I have been bled on, vomited on and been given various illnesses they contracted.  (I secretly love to be needed so badly.)

I have fostered, nurtured and encouraged both their love of fairies and their love of God. (As my mother did before me)

I have listened to hopes, dreams, screams and laughter.  I have counseled, consoled, laughed, screamed back and told them to shut up.  (No Mom is perfect.)

They have been blessed with my love of reading and I have taught them to write and cipher and they seem to be fairly literate and competent.  (Wish I had not taught them to be impatient and have control issues.)

Through nothing but the Grace of God they are kind, modest, loving, charitable, faithful, candid, hospitable and eloquent.   (except, of course, to each other)


I am richly blessed to be their Mom.  (And I hope someday, to be their friend.)

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Monday, May 3, 2010

A Rainy Day in Spring

I love rainy days.  They feel like permission to stay in and curl up and read with a hot cup of coffee.

Outside my window, the new growth appears greener, deeper, richer, more colorful overnight.   A welcome sight for winter-sore eyes.

Sitting, I hear the soft sound of the droplets descending from barely budding leaves to the ground below.  

The rich aroma of damp loam, where we put new flowers in, smells woodsy in a way it only does in the spring.  As if it were awakening and breathing deep joyful breaths of warm air.

The deep pinks of the azaleas and the vibrant yellows of the forsythia stand out more intensely than on a sunny day.

The birds are singing, a rhythmic counterpoint to the raindrops.
And I will let the kids sleep in and enjoy the morning just a little bit longer.

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