Wednesday, October 31, 2012

we skipped...

Halloween this year.  We didn't dress up, we didn't trick or treat.  I didn't miss it one bit.  It's been a decision in the making for a couple years now.  I know, you're rolling your eyes, calling us freaks under your breath.  It's OK, we expected that.
Instead, we roasted weenies, smores and sipped hot apple cider.  We sat around the fire on hay bales warming our fingers and toes.  And after a while, we women made our way back to the house with the chillins.  We stood around the kitchen talking and eating chocolate cobbler.  Miss E and me, we talked about sewing and homemade cleaners and diy laundry detergent long after the crowd was gone.  She so reminds of my friend Martha.  They would be great friends.
Miss E is soft spoken, tall, has good taste.  She makes her own baby food, puts it in little plastic condiment cups and they're all neatly stacked and labeled in her freezer, makes her own cleaning supplies and uses cloth diapers.  They are so alike.  So alike.  They need to meet one day.  For certain.  It's funny how people here resemble people there.  Not in their appearance, but in their likenesses.  It's comforting.

Tonight was another fantastic night spent with friends.  I've had a shower to clear my hair of camp fire smell and tomorrow, I'm off to visit some schools.  I was up way too late last night and ran and ran and ran today.  So, I'm turning in early.  Hope your night was as pleasant as ours!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

a new do + sewing & a recipe

Saturday meant guitar and violin lessons, laundry and haircuts.  I've been thinkin' for a while now I wanted my hair short again.  It's been three years growing it out and I craved change, something new.  It goes along with life these days.  So, I told Miss Stylist to hack it off.  To stack it in the back and do whatever with the rest.  And so she did.  And I was pleased.  Although I admit to being a little fearful when she cut. and cut. and cut.  

No smile.  I'm all cheek bones and big teeth and half moon eyes when I smile.  So, today, I spared you that.  Instead, you get a smirk, giraffe neck and a wonky shadow.  Stay with me here, focus on the hair.

There's been talk of not coming home for Thanksgiving.  I'm a little saddened, but it would be a short trip of hustle and bustle.  It's tiring enough making the fourteen hour drive but then to run from house to house gorging ourselves on turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy whilst trying to keep conversation in between fighting off cat naps.  It does sound appealing though, doesn't it?  Until you realize that the number of days visiting = number of days driving, ughh.  Negative brother.

I've also been catching up on sewing...

- I made a flat iron case because that's become kind of essential when you're straightening and then need to jump in the car because it's 6:05am, you have 14 hours of driving and you needed to rock out at 6 (yes, I'm prompt like that) - now, you're stuck waiting for the flat iron to cool so you can pack it.  No longer a problem!  (Although, I don't require the flat iron anymore thanks to Miss Stylist and Miss K does no straightening that early!) Can you tell I have traveling on the mind?

- I busted this hat out tonight.  I admit, I'm pleased.  And not.  All at the same time.  (Thanks to the lamp for modeling it.  giggle.)

It was supposed to look like this (except on an adult and not so cutesy).  The pattern was an adult small yet only covered half my ear(s) and was a little too snug on top.  Not cool for the Illinois weather we've been having.  It all went awry somehow.  Only me.  The ruffle, which was not part of the look at all, is somehow cute in a 1920's sorta way.  In any case, it'll find a home with a happy little person somewhere.

-  Miss K asked for a new headband with a felt flower.  Though my glue guns are - you guessed it - at home and yes, this is a project requiring glue.  Figures.  So, it stands, unhappily unfinished.

Switching topics now...Instead of Terribly Terrific Toffee, this should be called Sin on a Platter because #1 - it's a sin not to make it, having only 4 ingredients that everyone has at home and minimal cooking required and #2 - it's a sin to eat only one.  My mom used to make this and I'd forgotten all about it until my addiction to Pinterest began.  So, today, I kicked out 2 batches and shared one with a friend.  I had to fight the munchkins off the second batch which we'll be sharing with more friends at a bonfire tomorrow night.  We call this "adult snack".  {Recipe follows.}
Terribly Terrific Toffee
1 cup unsalted butter (NO MARGARINE ALLOWED!)
1 cup brown sugar
1-12 oz. bag (or 2 cups) semi-sweet chocolate chips
40 saltine crackers
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a 15x10-inch jelly roll pan with foil and spray with non-stick spray. Place a flat layer of crackers out on the foil. In a small saucepan on medium heat, melt the sugar and butter until it reaches a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 5-6 minutes or until mixture is thickened and sugar is completely dissolved. Pour this mixture over the crackers and spread to coat evenly. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the toffee becomes bubbly. After removing the pan from the oven, let it sit for 3-5 minutes. Sprinkle on the chocolate chips, let them soften and melt, and then spread them into an even layer. (You can add nuts, cracker crumbs or whatever else floats your boat at this point.) Let cool in refrigerator until hardened. Break into pieces the size of your choice.
(Recipe courtesy of A Southern Grace)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

if i didn't know any better

i'd think it was going to snow.  but i do.  the sky has that creepy winter gray look, but it's not nearly cold enough. 

it's only the rain creeping in.  

and then, the sun just merely sneaks out for a few glorious moments and it's gone again.

a little red scarf

I scored big yesterday when I found a lovely piece of Christmas-red flannel - almost 3.5 yards to be exact - for $1.99! at the South Side Mission Mart (equivalent to the Goodwill.)  It was perfect and fuzzy and warm.

Today, my mission was to wash clothes, take out the trash, clean the bathroom and empty the dishwasher.  Early this morning, I showered, got the kids off to school, had a relaxing breakfast, sorted clothes and was completely prepared to hit the laundromat.  (Did you know it was spelled that way...laundr-o-mat?  Hmmm.)  Well, let's just say I emptied the dishwasher and fed it some more; cleaned out the fridge and put on appropriate clothing for roaming around town.  I got to the staircase and stopped dead in my tracks.  I wasn't feelin it and decided I had other plans for today.  Really, I didn't know what I was gonna be doing, but it definitely wasn't the long mental list I'd made myself.

This flannel was givin' me a hard time.  It whispered my name and so I returned my town appropriate clothes to their home and put on my hangin-at-home-clothes.  (Miss V'd know what I was talkin about.)  I had plans for this flannel but, with 51 degrees being our high for tomorrow and a brand new black fleece jacket (for $4!), I was thinkin SCARF!  (OK, maybe all that wasn't necessary for just 50 degrees but it felt right at the time.) 

I pulled out the flannel, grabbed all kinds of lace and tried them on for size.  None of them really worked for me (and that's not even all of 'em) and so I grabbed the computer and searched for a satisfying scarf tutorial. I found one, with flannel specifically in mind.

And after lunch, it was finished...

I know I'm gonna have to fight Miss K for it.  Seems my closet is her go-to place, my scarves, jewelry.  It's good that we can't wear the same size clothes.  Yet.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pinterest creations brought to life

I've taken some time this week to create a couple of things we've found on blogs and Pinterest.  Miss K was so excited to come home to these!

(Don't look now, but this isn't the best photography. And I'll be honest, I wasn't gettin' out of my pjs to model these either. My apologies y'all. Instead, I have my sights set on one of these. Hopefully, she and I'll meet up at Christmas!)

This "Spaghetti Necklace" came from Ette Studios' post "DIY: Recycled Tshirt Scarf Necklace Roundup".  I made it using a boys' size 6 t-shirt and it was just the right length for us.  We also add a Small Rosette Clip in cream from Thirty-One.

 This scarf tutorial came from Tidy Mom and was super-duper easy.  I used a mens' size Large t-shirt and got 10 circles out of it.  Again, I used a Small Rosette Clip from Thirty-One to dress it up a little.


Saturday, October 20, 2012

sweet morsels of gratitude

Today's been a rough one despite seeing the sun shine for one of the first times in almost a week.  So, instead of dwell on the seedy, I'd love to tell you what I'm grateful for, how my God has gifted me so much when I am so unworthy.  This, too, shall be a great day.

Today, I am thankful for...
- Christian Music.  While putting together a puzzle, Miss K gets her iPad, turns on some tunes and it's Christian music.  {Might I interject y'all?  At one point in her life, she said to me, "You always make us listen to this."  Not true friends.  I listened to it often because it kept me (and continues to keep me) closer to God and what he wants me to be daily but, I didn't make them and it wasn't what we always listened to.  Thankyouverymuch.}  This leads me to my second stop...

- This Little Town.  Tonight I'm thankful for this little town who thinks it's awesome to love God.  At home (in VA) God was always there but for Miss K's age group, he was someone found in the background.  Here, he rocks this joint!  Youth group meets every week and takes fantastic excursions out and about.  Going to speaking events, service projects, etc.  God is here and he's on the forefront.
- Movie Night.  Since moving here, family movie night has become a staple.  When we're not out and about on the weekends, we rock Netflix and popcorn in the parents' bed like its no body's business!
- Parks.  We have three here, all within walking distance.  It is breathtaking to walk or ride our bikes to the park.  A luxury we've never had.

- Love.  I hear "I love you" more now than ever.  Whenever we get off the phone with someone, we hear it.  People that've rarely said it in the past now declare it open and freely.  It rolls off their tongue like butter.  Have I ever mentioned how much I love butter?

- Dinner parties with friends.  We spend more time with friends now than ever.  In part because there is no family (let me repeat myself...NO FAMILY) here.  So, when we're with friends, it's like family.  Who says you can't choose your family?  I believe God plants people in your path who you come to love just as much or even more as your own blood kin.  And it never fails that you always call each other for some epicurean fellowship at just the right moments.

- Blogs.  I read a lot over here.  There's wisdom in her words, raw honesty, and I almost always find God there.  (She's one of my pretend bff's. snicker)  Tonight, I read some posts she'd shared that "hit me right in the gut" (her words).  You should check them out here and here.  And just for the record, we have an old-style pump at the local gas station and I go inside to pay but, that post was a little wake up call (and guilty!  I do text my neighbors.)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Mother Teresa and I ventured out of town and eventually, found ourselves at Cracker Barrel.  Her plate, inhabited by fried catfish, was appealing but, I'm a fan of meatloaf so I went with the special.  Conversation cascaded in between bites of meatloaf and buttery biscuits.  Afterwards, we wandered aimlessly around the store before we hit the town. 

There wasn't much in that little town but, the conversation and entertainment had in the Goodwill was timeless and sidesplitting.  Amongst short (and long) stints in the car and over coffee and walks, we've had plenty of time to touch on all subjects known to man.  Okay, maybe not so much, but there are subjects that need be left alone.  I am sad to see her leave tomorrow.  I've enjoyed her company immensely.

I read in a book tonight, "A friend buoys your spirits when you are facing tasks that seem too big for the moment.  She tells you the truth when you need to hear it.  And most of all, she listens and understands."  I think of her, of Martha, my mom, my spiritual mom, of all my friends "back home" (there're too many to list) and my new friends here.  This passage is so true and I know that God has put all of these incredible people in my life and I in there's for a special reason.  There are times when I can't quite grasp the vast love of my God.  Then, there are times when I can.  Tonight is one of them.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

the long trek home ~ the not so long visit

We went home for a few days.  I  needed that.  To see all the people I wanted to so  lovingly embrace, to cry in their arms and on their shoulders, to linger in their presence, to hear of their struggles.  To bathe myself in their love, their strength, their hopes for us.

We weren't there long enough, for me at least, but, I am thankful we had the opportunity to be there for a short time and then, bring a little of home with us.

Our trip gave me the time to hear the wisdom of many, how they'd been praying for us, how life was treating them.  There are so many friends and family I would've visited and spent time with but, God gave me what I needed, not what I wanted.  It was time enough to refresh, to get a new outlook on what he's calling me to do here, to regain the strength I thought I'd lost or never had.

I was sad to leave, I spent most of Sunday in tears.  I woke up early Monday morning with puffy eyes, swollen from tears of sorrow.  Thank God Mother Teresa was so bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.  She made it a little easier to leave. 

A wise woman told me, sometimes we miss things because we're so wrapped up in ourselves, in the depths, in trials that we're allowing to hold us hostage.  We need to look further, so we won't miss those moments that are so perfectly manifested by God.  She's right.  More often, I need to pray that I won't miss what God wants for me, for my life.  Funny, I heard this before I left too.  God is good.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

looking back

I realize my last post could easily be viewed as shallow and just plain silly but, those issues, those emotions, at the time, were very real to me.  I was honest about what my struggles encompassed.  There are times when I think what I want for my future, for my family's future are trivial at best.  Like Homecoming.  Is that really such a big deal?  When I think about occasions missed, admittedly, my heart is saddened.  And I ask myself, "Is this the stuff God wants me to focus on?"  Obviously, it's not and seems awfully superficial but, with all the emotions running wild and struggles hitting me square in the face these days, it's been hard not to see every little thing through an extremely sensitive filter. 

I don't want my children to miss experiences.  I recant, there are things I want them to miss, things I want to shelter them from.  For instance, 4-H, prom, high school pep rallies and football games, spending time with their bestest best friends in the world, those are experiences that are enjoyable in the right light.  I want them to make their mark here, a stand for God and what they believe.  I want them to be role models for their friends, their family.  I want to foster Godly relationships and experiences for my children as well as those around them.  I want to be a part of my children growing up in a positive light, allowing them to take part in such events in a positive way.

I don't want my children to be of the world, but I do want them to enjoy their time here, be it growing stronger through struggles as we stand firmly beside them, praising God for the work he's doing in and through them and just wholesome good times.  My mind continually runs circles around itself these days.  There was so much in there, so much going on that the words come out and they look all fuzzy and make little sense.  I apologize, for it seems my emotions got the best of me.  Perhaps a change of scenery was in order.

Monday, October 1, 2012

to leave and never return

This thought's flung its arms around my leg, shackled itself to my ankle and I haven't been able to shake it.  I actually asked the Mister, "Do you ever think about packing it up and just going home?"  Yep, I went there.  I wanted to know if I was the only one with this thought bouncing around inside my head.  Was I crazy even thinking it?  He replied, "Yes."  Oh, how I wanted to persuade him, to push him, to turn thoughts into realities.  I asked him, "Why don't we do that?"  Being that he's a sensible man, he listed several reasons and I let it be.

There is so much I wish I could change, do over.

I love our friends here.  I wouldn't want them to be offended but, this place, I feel apart of it but, then again, not so much.  I love it, I hate it.  It is what I wish for my children and then, it's not.  I adore the fact that it's small, very small.  A tiny place where kids walk and ride their bikes to school.  Three buses park quietly outside and wait there for kids to return in the afternoon.  An archway of trees line the main road coming in and going out of town.  It is picturesque.  The kind of place where God is huge and little evil is found.  It's the place where neighbors stop to chat along their crisp morning walk with dogs in tow.  A place where no one compares them self to the next.  Where minimal is a way of life.  It's a comfortable place but, everything in this world has its draw backs.

The school.  We found out that all teachers in Illinois are with the union.  I am now learning to hate very much dislike the union.  It doesn't matter what kind of teacher you are...good, bad, indifferent.  You don't lose your job because your students are failing or unfocused.  No, you have a contract that says your job is secure and who cares that you're educating the future of America?

I have a very big problem with this.  Our kids need more, I dare to say they are "gifted" because that word's so "high and mighty" but, they need to be challenged at a higher level.  In a school so small, there is no challenge.  There's no gifted, no enrichment program.  Nothing to stimulate their minds other than that one level, a day to day blah.  The curriculum here is slow and behind what we're used to.  So slow and behind that Miss K is reading out of books they used in Virginia in the third and fourth grade.  She's in the SIXTH GRADE!  This is killer.  It does our children no favor to sit in on these classes.  It makes them hate school.  And I hate it that I didn't dig into this deeply.  Everyone said (and continues to say), "We have a great school."  When this is all you've ever known, maybe you do think it's a great school but, we're I'm having a very difficult time with it.

The sports.  Since the school's so small, sports are limited.  There is no football, no soccer, no golf, no lacrosse, no wrestling, no prom - not that prom's a sport.  Back home, this past weekend was homecoming for the school.  You know, big football game, dance afterwards, your best hair, makeup, and a date.  A tear came to my eye as I looked at pictures of all the girls dressed up and ready for their big night.  Their dates in cute little matching ties.  There will be none of that here and it made my heart ache for this little girl that will never get to experience any of it.  I won't get to be the mom who takes her daughter out shopping to find a beautiful dress and then off to the salon for hair and nails.

The housing.  There are a very limited number of houses here for sale with much more than a quarter of an acre.  How do you expect to have dogs?  How do you expect to have a garden?  Do you know you can't have chickens here?  It's not allowed within the town.  I want a handful of chickens.  Just a a handful.

I wonder how we could've been so naive, so silly as not to research all of this.  Comb through every. single. detail. before we even gave this a second thought.  I thought we had it all covered.  Why did I feel like God was calling us here?  Now, I feel so troubled, so displaced.  Why does life seem so difficult?  Not only for myself, but for my children?  I can handle my self, but my children?  It hurts to see them suffer.

It's true, I'm missing the whos, the whats, the wheres, the whens, the what ifs.  I'm missing it all.

God always finds a way to stretch us, not to break us, but to bend us.  To make us stronger, to make us step out in faith, to put all of our trust in Him..."For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:11-13)