The Great Winter Storm of 2014

In case you somehow missed it, it’s been pretty cold in these here parts. Like, seriously cold. Honestly, I didn’t mind it at all. I loved the unexpected three days of having the kids home.

Not so much the power going out for almost twenty four hours and therefor no heat except for our fire place, but even that was great fun. It was family time with no technological and electronic interruptions. And we had kind friends who had us over for hot cocoa and a nice warm visit. The kids delighted in playing dark hide-n-seek the evening we lost power and it was hilarious for me to sit by the fire and listen to them play. Sarah, as it turns out, has amazing staying power and does not easily give up her hiding spot even when she hasn’t been found for fifteen minutes. Emily declared she had to brainstorm and needed quiet while trying to figure out hiding spots, Abby just quietly pondered and whenever she came up with a spot would go check it out. Samuel enjoyed playing the scaredy cat and Claire would just pace around the living room and ask everyone to go with her to search. I did draw the line at the Gollum  impressions. There’s just something creepy at hearing that voice saying, “Come find me, my precious” in the dark.

We put the fire place to good use. Not only to keep us warm but we roasted hot dogs and marshmallows, something the kids have begged to be allowed to do since we moved here. And Sam also got his wish to sleep in front of the fire all night.

Rob kept the home fires burning literally just about all night. It was still cold but we all stayed cozy and fared better than most have in history before all of our modern conveniences, and still better than others today. It gave us an interesting historical perspective on some of our favorite books like Little House on the Prairie and Keep the Lights Burning Abby.

The kids and I went for a walk and even though we didn’t get to play in snow since we mostly had just ice, we did enjoy the magical beauty of everything being encased in ice. There may or may not have been some slipping and sliding on drive ways and icy patches of grass, or icicle harvesting from neighbor’s mailboxes and garbage cans. Regardless, it sure made the house feel pretty stinking warm even without the heater when we got back!

It was a lot of fun and an adventurous story for us to look back on in years to come that will start with, “Hey remember when…”

Stepping Into Community

As part of our twelve days celebration last month Rob gave me a pair of slippers. More as a joke than anything, they were leopard print and fuzzy. And, as it turns out, warm and comfy so I wore them all the time. I also washed them frequently and needless to say they didn’t hold up well so I had to get a new pair. Sadly the feisty print was unavailable and I ended up with somewhat the same style only in pink and not fuzzy. They’ll do I suppose but I liked the fuzzy warmth of the other pair and truthfully the sassy print was fun to wear.

I’m not really a good shoe shopper. I know what I like when I see it on other people’s feet but I really don’t have a great perspective when looking at them on my own feet. Then there is the whole fit thing. Some shoes will be just darling but the hurt like crazy…just uncomfortable. Others are so cute they make me wish I was the kind of person that could wear them but frankly I just look silly in them. Like those high top Converse sneakers. I think they are so cute but I just can’t pull them off…they’re not me. Or cowboy boots. Love ’em on other people but no way could I wear them without knowing that I was wearing them every moment they were on my feet and they would be the only thing I was thinking about. Then there are the ones that I like and they fit but there’s still that initial newness that has to be broken in for them to be a really good comfortable fit. Of course once in a while you find a pair that is the perfect fit and feels like a dream on your feet from the first moment.
Our church is about to do a study on community and friendship. It’s already generated a lot of helpful, and somewhat uncomfortable, conversations. I’ve been thinking that oddly enough finding community can be a lot like finding the right pair of shoes. I’ve come across some communities that, while I can see how other people fit there, I know I just don’t. I’m not comfortable there even though I can see the beauty there. 
Other communities I am really drawn too. I love peeking into different worlds and maybe even stepping into them for a bit but they aren’t me. I don’t belong there and like the cowboy boots if I try to make a place there I pretty much can’t even walk a straight line because I am starring at my own feet.
And then there is the community that does fit. Where I do belong. Only it’s not that slide your foot into the shoe and it’s like walking on a cloud perfect fit. Because, let’s be honest, that doesn’t happen all the time. That kind of fit is rare and should be treasured. It’s the fit between a husband and wife or that very best friend that is as close to you as it is possible for a friend to be. 
I’m talking about the kind of community that you look around and see it’s good. Solid and well made. Sturdy and ready to help you climb the mountains of life with sure footedness, slog through the mud in the valleys, and dance in the meadows. But there’s that slight stiffness up front. Not the kind that comes from an ill fit, but more the kind that comes from being new. It’s the give and take as your foot finds it’s place and the shoe conforms to it’s shape. It takes a little wear to smooth it out and make it the comfortable place that it can be.
It’s the kind of community where on the surface there may not be much in common…different walks of life, different stages of life, etc. But there is just good stuff happening. There’s love and fellowship that goes deep despite those differences. It’s the kind of community that makes you a better person because it encourages and it confronts. It forgives and it nurtures.
It’s the kind of community that’s worth the work of fitting in.

Titus 2 Tuesday

Pinterest Test Kitchen #48 ~ Chicken Pot Pie

Good gracious, I haven’t posted a recipe since November! I knew it had been a while but not that long. It is what it is though so there’s no use crying about it. I’m just going to put this one out there with no promises about a weekly recipe right now. We shall just have to find out together whether I can get into some kind of routine again 🙂

This is one of those adaptable recipes that can be a major made from scratch (ha!) delight or a take-some-short-cuts-and-it’s-still-a-delight recipes. I’ve tried making homemade pie crust and frankly I’ve found the store bought ones to be just as good. (No offense to you homemade pie crust making women…I’ve just never made one that was so significantly better that it was worth the extra time and work.) I’ve also made this with fresh vegetables as well as frozen and both work just fine.

What you’ll need:
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups boiled and shredded chicken (I use about 6 chicken tenderloins) 
3 cups vegetables of your choice (I have used the frozen mixed veggies for soup and I’ve also chopped up celery & carrots and mixed them with corn and green beans.)
4 TBS butter
4 TBS flour
1/2 cup milk or half & half
Italian seasoning
double pie crust
What you’ll do:
Place one crust in the bottom of a pie plate and set aside.
Add your chicken and veggies to your broth and boil for 15 or 20 minutes.
Turn your heat down and let simmer.
In a small sauce pan melt your butter.
Add your flour, milk and Italian seasoning. (You may need to remove from heat so you do not scald your roux. It should be pretty thick.)
Add roux to the chicken and vegetables and stir until it is mixed in very well.
Pour mix into prepared pie plate. Unroll and add top pie crust, pinching sides together and cutting out small vents.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

This has quickly become a family favorite and it’s a hearty meal that goes far. One pie feeds six of us with enough leftovers for my beloved to take for lunch the next day. I’m excited about trying it this week with shredded beef, mushrooms, potatoes and onions. I’ll keep you posted on how it turns out.

So, How’s It Going?

When I started the first blog it was easy. The kids were little and there always seemed to be some little story to share. Words seemed to come easier then too and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not. Extended silence on Sam’s Family was rare but did happen occasionally. And then I got quiet and realized a couple of things.

First, children are a lot funnier when they are little. There are fewer haha moments – that, or they’re old enough now that I need to take into account their feelings on whether or not I should share the haha moments.

Second, I’ve gotten older as well. (More on that in a bit.) For me this means that the words don’t come as easily now. I hope this is because I’ve learned to measure my words carefully and to let what I say mean something. I’ve come to appreciate the truths found in the tenth chapter of Proverbs: with many words transgressions are not lacking, and nourishment is found in the lips of the righteous to mention a few nuggets of wisdom found there.

When I started this blog my intent was nothing more than to have a place to share my photography. But I quickly learned that I am more of a storyteller than I thought, and I need both words and pictures to satisfy. But I still had plans to be all grown up and scheduled about it. Mondays would be recipe days. Tuesday was for posts on wifery and parenting or Christian womanhood or some other specific topic. I would share an image on Wordless Wednesday. Friday would be some kind of sharing highlighted with pictures, and Sunday would be (and still is) a Scripture verse paired with an image.

My goodness, looking at it all laid out like that seems kind of crazy. And if you just mosey through the previous few weeks you can see that I clearly haven’t been keeping that schedule. At first it was the holidays and just being out of the rhythm. Tried to get back to it only to get derailed again this time by my birthday and a long weekend.

Basically, life happens and there isn’t always time to blog about it or through it. So I am officially letting myself off the hook…no more stressing that oh-good-gracious-it’s-Sunday-and-I-haven’t-written-up-the-recipe-for-tomorrow or whatever. (Watch, I’ll say this and be on some kind of blogging marathon for the next month.)

Life gets busy but one of the best parts of my week happens on Wednesdays. Wednesday is moms group. I love it! I love the noise and the little people, the food and friendship. It’s an amazing group of women and they all have so many talents and skills. One of them started the neatest project at the beginning of the year. She’s crocheting a sky blanket. In preparation she gathered yarn in various shades of blues and grays. Every morning she looks at the sky and chooses the yarn that most closely matches it. She then crochets one row. (Since this is a year long project she’ll obviously end up with 365 rows. She determined that half of that would make a nice width so each row is around 182 stitches.) So far it is absolutely beautiful and I can only imagine how lovely the completed blanket will be. And how smart are the safety pins? She has them every so many stitches to help make sure of her counting. This actually really makes me want to learn to crochet.

Okay, so I mentioned that I recently had a birthday. I turned forty three this past Sunday. I told my beloved this morning that I am solidly in middleagedness. He just gave me this sweet smile and told me he delights in my gray hair. How could I not be happy growing old with him?

But still. This has happened.

That’s right. I have officially joined the ranks of the straight arm brigade. Without these nifty little things on my face I hold anything I need to be able to see as far away from my body as humanly possible. How does that happen? It literally seemed to happen over night and don’t even get me started on the gray hairs. I know, and I am thankful he delights in them, but honest to goodness when did I get so old?

And when exactly will I start to feel like a grown up?

Beach Day!

When you live in Florida you have to know one thing about the weather.

It be all cray cray.

One day it’s seventeen degrees and three days later we’re in the seventies. It’s kind of crazy trying to keep up but you just go with it.

When it dropped down into the teens we bundled up and the kids tucked blankets around themselves on the ride to school. We poked frozen water in the birdbaths and checked out the redneck ice sculptures made by some neighbors hooking their water hose to a ladder and letting it run all night. We drank plenty of hot cocoa too.

When it jumped up to the high sixties a few days later we did what any self respecting Florida living beach loving people would do.

We went to the beach. I warned them it was still going to be cold and to bundle up some but they still were not quite prepared so we didn’t stay too terribly long. The beach, even for twenty minutes, is still the beautiful beach and worth it.

The sand was still wet and pretty cold from the rain earlier so she had Sam carry her on his back. He didn’t seem to mind. Notice that sweet smile?

Don’t be fooled by it. He dumped her off right after.

Claire stalked the wildlife.

And Emmie and Ab chased each other to stay warm.

Sarah and Sam were back at it again.

 He escapes though.

And I have no idea what was happening here.

Sarah tried to give Claire a ride on her shoulders. It went well I think.

Love my babies. Days like this will become rare as they grow up. You think about such things when you have a senior in the house I guess. But for today I am just going to remember their laughter, the blue skies and the seagulls as they raced across the sky.

Going Through The Door

There has been the occasional nudge of sorts lately to put my camera down. To walk away and leave it be. To be done.

Seems odd, doesn’t it? When I love it so much.

But I think I have figured out what the little nudging is. I think I’ve been in this room too long. I’ve gotten comfortable. And complacent. Settled. So I have a few choices.

I can leave. Meaning I can set the camera down and move on to some other hobby or creative something.

I can stay. I can continue in the same way I am now. Doing ok. Taking pictures the way I’ve been taking pictures. Settle in on the comfy couch so to speak.

Or I can let that nudge move me to open the door. To see what comes next. To just see more…look a little further…a little deeper.

We are created in the image of an infinite God. There is always more to see. More poems to write. More music to play. More songs to sing. More pictures to paint. More pottery to shape.

In my case it’s not a numerical more. But I want to capture more. It’s not really something I can articulate. I just know there is more to learn…more to practice. If we create because He creates, and I believe we do or at least should, and because He is infinite then there is always going to be another door to walk through.

Because He is always drawing us ever closer to Himself.

Sharing with Tweetspeak.

Random Food Thoughts

I was planning to share a recipe, honest. But Rob has been out of town all week (comes home today!) and we actually ended up on facebook at the same time. And I sort of forgot I had the cake in the oven and totally overcooked it. I’ll make it again though in the near future and share it. I bet when it isn’t all dried out it’s really good 🙂

But in the spirit of a food related Monday post I have a few random thoughts on food because of something I’ve either heard about or read.

Heard this on the radio last week and it totally blew my mind. How in the world can there be a shortage of Velveeta? Isn’t that manufactured pretend cheese?

Speaking of cheese. Mac and cheese patties? First we put it on a pizza. Now we’re balling it up and frying it. Is there no end to the desecration?

Also, another weird food marriage that should not have happened:
bar-b-que chicken pot stickers
Why must we westernize everything?

I saw both those recipes recently on pinterest, by the way. Apparently pinterest has a dark side.

As I said a few of these random food thoughts and words not my own but ones I was surprised by. Like the fact that the banana is both a fruit and an herb. It’s considered an herb because the trunk of it’s “tree” actually lacks woody tissue. And get this! The banana is also in the berry category since it is the product of a single seed.

Weird, huh? Who knew bananas were so interesting?

The highest calorie food item in the world is a milkshake. A large chocolate shake from White Castle has 1,680 calories. I am not even going to google the peppermint chocolate chip shake from Chick-Fil-A. I don’t even want to know. But it probably a reason to give thanks that they don’t serve it year round. (Total side note…White Castle was the first fast food restaurant in the US. They opened in 1921. McDonald’s didn’t open their doors until 1948.)

Did you know that honey is the only natural unprocessed food that can last forever if it is stored correctly? Honey stored in vats were found in King Tut’s tomb and were determined edible even though they’d been buried for 2,000. I’m just curious as to who stepped up and said, “Sure I’ll try some of that!” to find out.

Queen Elizabeth is credited with the first gingerbread men. Apparently she had them made to match the likeness of visiting dignitaries. Also, the first cookie cutter ever made was in the shape of a gingerbread man.

Not directly related to a random food fact but still very interesting…prohibition is the mother of kids meals. It seems that when alcohol could no longer be sold proprietors needed to generate another form of revenue. Until that time children were rarely in restaurants. Also interesting to note is that there was a school of thought that pies, pastries and other sweets weren’t healthy for children under ten so rarely were desserts given in the kids meals.

There are over 7000 varieties of rice in the world.

Fig Newton’s were the first mass produced cookie. They’re also named after the town of Newton, Massachusetts.

In 2004 Singapore banned chewing gum. Apparently the problem of how people were disposing of their abc (already been chewed) gum really irritated the government. It was being found under tables, elevators, and even in keyholes. The final straw came when vandals began putting their gum on the doors of the cars on their metro system causing them to malfunction. You now need a doctor’s prescription to chew gum.

There you go. I am one step closer to actually being back into the blog routine I had before the holidays. We’ll see what shows up next Monday.