Monday, August 31, 2009

Confessions of a Gumaholic

I. love. gum.

If Wrigley's had a contest for a life supply of gum and I won it, they would probably go bankrupt. If I somehow got into a predicament where I was about to be served my last meal, I'd request a stick of chewing gum. If you want to be my best friend, buy me a pack of gum.

I. love. gum.

And I should probably seek help for my addiction... ;)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

My Pensieve

"Things don't always turn out the way we think they will," Noelle told me as we built a fort together yesterday afternoon. Oh, the wisdom of a six year old! That night over a dinner of chicken curry, chapati, and cabbage, I learned from Drew that my car had broken down again. Not only did my AC go out this summer, but Mirabelle began having trouble getting herself started. While Drew was at our friend's junk yard looking to buy a very used car (all fixed up, of course), Mirabelle died. Fitting, eh?

"Do you have a car?" Logan asked me today as we drew pictures in the driveway.
"Not really," I told him. But I just found out that I will have my car again! Sean (the man who owns the junk yard and fixes wrecked cars) looked at my car, and is going to fix it for $1200. Before you freak out at what seems to me an astronomically large amount of money, let me tell you a little story.

At the beginning of the summer, a lady backed into my car in a parking lot. After several phone calls and a visit with a friendly Geico man, I was handed a check for $1300. They had given me the choice of having the very large dent in my car repaired, or taking the money the repair would have cost. I chose the cash.

My car is lifeless in a junk yard right now. But God had the mercy to let her break down right where she could be restored to life by a friend. And a few months ago he let me get in a car crash that gave me the money I now need. So I should be rejoicing, right? Well... In my head I know how awesome it is that everything worked out so nicely, and I am truly grateful. In my heart I keep thinking: there goes the laptop I was going to buy (that I NEED, screams me); and, what if I had been driving Mirabelle all summer? (though I know that would have made absolutely no difference); and, why must this happen to me?! Dad just drove up in Drew's beautiful 2004 Saturn. I should be thrilled for him. Right now I'm just jealous that he has air conditioning. Why cannot my heart follow my head when my head is right and my heart is wrong?

There. I feel better. Now that I've thrown these words onto the page, they are gone out of me. Writing is like a pensieve.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Of My Hands

My bread machine is broken. The little pin that makes the dough hook spin fell out of the bottom, and I'm not sure how to fasten it back. If anybody has any idea how I can fix it, please let me know! Since I was without a machine this morning, I set about making bread the old fashioned way. Flour fluffed through the air and settled all over the table as I poured and mixed and kneaded. Despite a little bit of stickiness, and a few instances of knocking the tub of butter off the table, the dough turned out quite nicely. The recipe said it needed to rise in a warm place, so I put it on the porch and set the timer for an hour. When I came back, the bread hadn't risen a bit. I brought it inside and set the timer for another 30 minutes. Nothing. So I stuck it in the oven and hoped for the best. I didn't get what I hoped for. The bread came out hard as a brick and completely flat. And that bread was our only hope for lunch!

So I went to Harville's Produce Market and Publix, with a quick stop at Brightlight Books to visit Drew and Angela. After unloading the groceries, I took my sisters on a quick trip to the mall, where Batman saved the day once again! While Caroline was buying a Wii game, Batman suddenly appeared and asked Macy and I if we wanted a picture with him. This question caused Macy to realize she had left her phone in another store! Thank the Lord for Batman. :)

Although my morning bread catastrophe had me a little nervous, I set forth on my dinner making plans: Spaghetti with Fresh Tomato Sauce, salad, and Rustic Italian bread. (Thank you, Jessie, for letting me borrow your bread machine!) Everything turned out beautifully. Even my brother deemed the meal as "pretty good"; my little chef's heart soared. Once the supper dishes were cleared away, I set the womenfolk to work shelling peanuts to make peanut butter. The recipe told me to buy shelled peanuts, but I thought of the scene in Anne of Avonlea where Marilla is sitting on her front porching talking to Anne and shelling beans. I have always loved that scene. Though it would have been far more convenient to buy the ready-made nuts, I decided to go the cheaper and more exciting route. And I'm glad I did, because my mother, sisters, and I had a positive party with those peanuts!

A million shells, two cups of peanuts, and lots of blending later, I was pouring naturally sweet, creamy peanut butter into a glass jar.

Once upon a time, people created everything themselves. They made their own furniture, blankets, and clothes. They built houses, and planted gardens, and everything they ate was home-made. And they were satisfied. Whenever we create things for ourselves, we are rewarded with a deep pride in that which now exists through the labor of our very own hands. As a little girl I wanted nothing more than to live on a farm, and to live off the land as much as possible. Sometimes I still have that dream.

Monday, August 24, 2009

A Puritan Prayer: Christ is All

O Lover to the uttermost,

May I read the meltings of thy heart to me
in the manger of thy birth
in the garden of thy agony,
in the cross of thy suffering,
in the tomb of thy resurrection,
in the heaven of thy intercession.
Bold in this thought I defy my adversary,
tread down his temptations,
resist his schemings,
renounce the world,
am valiant for truth.
Deepen in me a sense of my holy relationship
to thee,
as spiritual Bridegroom,
as Jehovah's Fellow,
as sinners' Friend.
I think of thy glory and my vileness,
thy majesty and my meanness,
thy beauty and my deformity,
thy purity and my filth,
thy righteousness and my iniquity.
Thou hast loved me everlastingly, unchangeably,
may I love thee as I am loved;
Thou hast given thyself for me,
may I give myself to thee;
Thou hast died for me,
may I live to thee,
in every moment of my time,
in every movement of my mind,
in every pulse of my heart.
May I never dally with the world
and its allurements,
but walk by thy side,
listen to thy voice,
be clothed with thy graces,
and adorned with thy righteousness.

I Can Post Pictures!

Dear friend Jessie taught me how to post pictures. It's so nice to have computer savvy friends to help me out when my technologically retarded brain fails me. :)

Oh, scrambled pancakes! A depressing sight, is it not?

But as you can see by the food stuffed in Drew's cheeks (maybe he's the gerbil), and the smiles on our faces, we survived the meal with relative happiness.

I love that my parents are so open to my crazy dinners and spontaneous guests! They're the best. <3

Saturday, August 22, 2009

On Thursday morning I babysat Sophie, Logan, and Austin. After pulling them in the wagon through the humidity to my house, I decided it would be fun to make a cake with them. Mom recently gave me a cookbook filled with desserts sweetened only with fruit, so I decided to make a Cranberry Orange Cake from that book. It didn't occur to me until we were already in the midst of mixing and stirring that 1 year old and 3 year old boys don't find baking to be the most fascinating pastime. So I got out some pots and pans and let them provide some atmosphere with their soothing music. (Ha!) The kitchen was only a little crazy.

Dressed and ready in our aprons!

Sophie is quite the little chef.

If these boys ever go professional with their drumming, I'm taking all the credit. ;)

It's so nice to have an artist for a sister.

I have a sneaking suspicion Christ didn't really get that much work done.

Home again, home again!

Friday morning I baked a cake (this time from a box and with LOTS of sugar) for Noelle's birthday. Unlike the polenta pancakes, it turned out quite nicely. After a whirlwind morning of cake baking and party preparing, I went with Mrs. G to help out with Noelle's little party at school. When I walked into the big kindergarten classroom, tears unexpectedly welled in my eyes. It was adorably decorated and spacious and filled with nice toys. I saw Kenya in my mind, and the little classrooms with dirt floors and tiny windows and no toys. I thought of the crowded benches and cracks in the walls, and suddenly I was crying.

American children soon came spilling into the room, and my tears disappeared in passing out birthday goodies and helping kids put straws in juice boxes and wiping up spills. The surroundings were different, but these were children just the same as in Africa. How could I not love them? After the class party, I went back to the G's and frosted my cake. Once my masterpiece was completed, I played dress up with Noelle and her friend Stefanie, and waited for Mrs. G to announce that it was time for the party. Finally she called us downstairs, and the party began! I'm such a kid at heart. Babysitting is so much fun.

I've heard bushy eyebrows are in style right now. I thought I'd see how they looked on me.

This summer the A/C in my car started blowing hot air. Not the nicest thing. So when I left Noelle's to meet Jessie and her family for dinner I rolled down the windows despite the rain. Since I was getting wet anyway, I figured I might as well really experience the rain. I pulled my promise ring off and held it in my right hand so it wouldn't fall off and get lost on the road. And then I forgot all about it.

At dinner I realized my ring was gone. All evening I kept reaching to spin it on my finger (bad habit I have), but it wasn't there! After dinner we went to Gap for Jessie to buy jeans, and though I knew I wouldn't buy anything, I tried on a pair just for fun. For the first time in my life, I fell head over heels in love with a pair of jeans. So here's a plug for Gap: I would spend oodles of money to own a pair of their superb 1969 skinnies. In fact, I'm going back today to get another pair while they're still on sale. Finally jeans that are comfortable!

When we got home, I jumped out of Mrs. M's car to search for my ring. "There's something shiny in the street," she called after me. "Is that your ring?" It was! Thank the Lord.

Scrambled Pancakes and Pierced Ears

On Wednesday afternoon I decided to make dinner using a recipe from my beautiful new Vegetarian Cookbook. After hours of pouring over recipes of pasta and tofu and veggies, I settled on Mexican Polenta (cornmeal) Pancakes with Avacado Filling. List in hand, I set off for Costco with Mom to pick up a few items, and my sweet brother Drew went by Harvilles to pick up the produce. When we arrived home, Christopher was just pulling up, and when I walked inside--arms full of groceries--Macy and her friend Courtney were in the kitchen.

There were plenty of people around to help. But none of the vegetables were home yet. So I mixed up the cornmeal pancake batter, substituting rice milk for buttermilk. (I'm not eating dairy due to asthma issues.) Eventually Drew got home and the kitchen table was immediately covered in veggies and cutting boards and flying knives. Even with four people slicing and dicing and peeling and chopping, it took over an hour to get all the produce prepared. And we still hadn't started the pancakes...

Around 8:00 we poured the first bit of batter into the pan. It sizzled happily in the oil, and I watched in delighted anticipation as Drew slid the spatula under its golden side and--it crumpled and crumbled and didn't look anything like a pancake. "Let me try," I said, and confidently drizzled batter around the pan. My "pancake" turned out worse than his. I tried again, and again, and again. All but six turned out looking more like scrambled eggs than anything else. It was a rough night. I must admit that I might have thrown my hands in the air a few times, and screamed at the pancakes, and handed the spatula over to Drew in despair.

We ate a little after 9:00. I ate the scrambled pancakes with what I hoped were regally dignified bites, served the six whole pancakes to six lucky people, and gave tortillas to everyone else. It was really quite delicious, and I would recommend the recipe to anyone who likes avacados and tomatoes. But take to heart the moral of the story: NEVER substitute rice milk for buttermilk.

Later that evening, Drew, Chris, and I headed to Wal-mart to buy an earring so that I could pierce Christopher's ear. For the second time. After an exciting trip through the store (which we videod) and an even more thrilling stop at Starbucks to get coffee grounds for my compost pile (why do they always look at me weird when I ask for the big bag from the trash instead of the tiny little ones in the basket by the door?), we arrived home and got straight to ear piercing. Last time I pierced Christopher's ear I was so nervous that my hand shook and I couldn't even get through the process without help. This time I was ready. With the experience of doing Chris's ear, and the ears of two girls in Kenya, I felt like a seasoned pro.

Once everything was properly sanitized, I grabbed up the needle and shoved it into his earlobe. Where it promptly stuck halfway and refused to budge. With a little help from a friendly towel, and a few not-so-friendly exclamations from Chris, I got the needle in, the needle out, the earring in, the back on, and we were done! I'm getting good at this. Readers, just let me know if you'd like me to pierce an ear or two for you. Though, I may start charging.

*Stay tuned for pictures and maybe even video. I'll post them just as soon as I figure out how. :)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I Grabbed Courage by the Hand

I begin this new adventure of blogging hesitantly. I feel like a gerbil coming out of its nest: first the little nose and whiskers pop out, sniffing suspiciously. If all seems well, the eyes soon follow, blinking and alert. Then, if no giant hand comes swooping down, or no vicious cat is lurking just outside the cage, the gerbil emerges from her nest and strides forth in confidence.

I think I'm still at the whiskers stage. But, if all goes well in my blogging, I believe I shall soon stride about Blogspot as confidently as my sister's gerbils walk around their cage. If anyone is reading this, prepare yourself. Who knows what life will turn into when it has the potential to be reported into cyber space? This could end up a little crazy. Don't say I didn't warn you...