Thursday, September 22, 2016

My project today: A casserole carrier

I *pinned* some casserole carrier ideas to my Pinterest board a few months back. My mom had mentioned she'd like to have one. And here it is, almost her birthday, and me at a loss for what to give her.
I saw that Becky had *pinned* some items this morning, and while browsing, I remembered Mom wanting a casserole carrier. Off I went to the fabric store, looking for some pre-quilted fabric.
(My goodness that stuff is expensive!)
Once home, I got out one of my casserole dishes and set about imagining how this carrier should look. I double-checked Pinterest for ideas, but ended up just doing my own thing.
My casserole carrier looks more like a blanket with handles.
The casserole dish set in the center, a couple corners flipped to show coordinating fabric.

The butterfly potholder.


All folded up to carry

Ends folded towards center, over casserole dish

All ready to carry
Three of sides folded over center

One side folded over casserole dish
The quilted fabric is thin, but will offer SOME insulation. It is an overall print on solid on one side, and coordinating stripes on the other. I took the wee bit I had left and made a free form butterfly potholder. Finished the potholder with a bit of ribbon and button. The potholder is double thickness of the quilted fabric, but still rather flimsy.
I left my sewing stuff out, hoping to get started on "mermaid tails" for the grand girls! 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Insight in the Night...


You may remember that right after we moved to this house we are leasing, Tom helped me refinish my giant sized rocking chair. I have had it for more than 16 years, probably closer to 20.
For the last 10 months, it has had to live outside, on an unprotected patio.
Yesterday afternoon, the dog wanted out. Tom went out with him, and sat down on the rocker. He leaned back... and just kept going.
The legs of the rocker are nearly hollowed out, full of ants. (Or maybe they are termites, I don't know.)
I don't know what, if anything can be done to salvage the rocker.
I woke up in the wee hours this morning. Tom was restless and thrashing around. I began to pray for him.
As I prayed, my rocking chair was brought to mind.
It looked solid enough, before its catastrophic failure. Like many people appear to be, to those who know them superficially.
I saw these small insects, and the damage they have done over time, and saw the comparison: these are like the small thoughts, the little things that bother us. We let them go. We don't check their progress... after all, what harm is there in a small, stray thought? A wee bit of anger here, a tiny thought of discord there. No harm. They are such little things. And then,  one day, everything just falls apart. Boom! How could that have happened so suddenly? They were just fine a few minutes ago! The very structure that was holding everything up is destroyed from the inside, one tiny thing at a time.
I thought, "Aha! The ants are like thoughts. God, You are wanting me to realize that every thought contrary to YOU, must be made captive, lest it slowly and subtly destroy ones whole life."
I thought, "God, I know that small thoughts plague many people.. many people who won't 'receive' what You have to say, simply because they won't believe ANYTHING I have to say as being from You.  How am I supposed to share this great insight? How can I get people to realize, they need to control the way they think- even the smallest thoughts?"

God smacked me upside my thinker right quick.
"It isn't anyone else that needs to be concerned with this message. It is YOU. YOU need to be taking your thoughts captive. (God) will deal with those who need dealt with about their own lives. Tammy needs to be worrying about Tammy and Tammy's thoughts."
Yeah. 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

A wish list. Seriously.

Not one of those, Peace on earth and love everyone type lists- though I do *wish* for those things.
But here is a list for me to keep in mind when thinking of the new house (In no particular order!)

A bistro set. Not necessarily this set, or even this color. But a small, wrought iron look.
A pergola swing area around a fire pit.
A picnic table- with an umbrella!
Stepping stones and wee water areas like this
An arbor, though not necessarily like this one.
Chickens and guineas.
Some small gnomes and/ or fairies. I want to hide them in places in the woods, to be 'discovered' by grandkids.
Tree faces. Especially along the bike paths the boys want to build.
Zip lines! (Of course, these would necessarily require the harnesses and hard hats, as a fall would certainly be onto jagged rocks below.)
Garden art.
Wind chimes. Rain chimes! Whirlygigs.
A "barn quilt" and/ or some large outdoor wall decorations.
An outdoor pizza oven/ BBQ pit.
Plants... lavender to line the lane coming towards the house. Rose bushes, especially the hedge rose, wild rose, and english cottage roses. Cannas. (I want some from our old Marlow house. It was in the contract that we get some when we found a place to buy!) I'd like an elderberry bush. Wildflower seed. Peonies. Pink, and white ones! Honeysuckle and hummingbird vine.
I need a wagon. Probably one with pneumatic tires- but at least something I can pull along through the woods and garden.
sigh.
I guess the most pressing WANT I would have immediately is to paint over the awful wallpaper in the kitchen.


Monday, September 12, 2016

Farewell to a friend (and, who is it about?)

My friend Cindi, who I became acquainted with when I worked at American Eagle, is passing away.
For the last 3+ years, it has been health issue after health issue. Not sure I can remember what order they came in (What sort of friend cannot remember such significant details?): But; brain tumors, perforated ulcer, lung cancer, heart valve bypass, return of brain tumors, return of lung cancer, spinal cancer... and she awaits the last journey in a hospice.
 I have been to see her several times in hospice. Probably more times in the last six weeks than I have visited her in the last couple of years. I fully intended to go last week. But, stuff happens. I got some sort of intestinal bug and didn't feel like walking as far as the mailbox, much less driving 25 miles to see anyone. And didn't figure she needed a flu bug on top of everything else.
 During this last couple of weeks, I have questioned myself hard. Am I going to see her for HER, or am I going to see her for ME?
  I had an appointment in that area today, so I decided to stop by. Had I not gone today, I was going to go tomorrow. I was halted at the nursing station. Who was I there to see? And my name?
"You aren't on the list. I'm sorry. She isn't receiving visitors. Maybe you can get an update from her daughter."
 Turned away.
 I didn't make the short list- friends and family welcome at the end.
Cindi may not have had any part in the making of the list. I had just hoped to sit and hold her hand for a little while. Give her some sips of water.
Even if Cindi had excluded me from that list herself, I understand.
 Here at the end, when your hair is standing on end, your body is a solid bruise, and your 5'9" frame carries a whopping 70 lbs, soaking wet with rocks in your pockets... if you had any pockets... you don't want people around. It is hard enough to let those you love come in. But peripheral friends- those from work who come to your Pampered chef parties, and you gossip with about other friends... it is a time for them to stand back.
I am going to miss her.
Cindi had a foul mouth. She smoked. Many people feel she lied incessantly.
I don't think she lied. I think she gave the sensational headline stories of her life. Those things, that when you hear the story behind the headline, you agree that while the headline was true, it made more of a story than the actual story.
Cindi had one of the kindest hearts I have ever known. If you got past the gruff, bluff, and bravado- you found a heart of gold. A champion of justice- always for the underdog. From arms length, you saw someone you might think hated men. Inside, there was a woman so hurt she was afraid to let men close. She was outspoken and generous to a fault. In one of our last conversations, when she was so in and out of lucidity- she asked if it was wrong that she she still felt love for a person who had wronged her very deeply. I told her it was never wrong to love.
The last few times I saw her outside of hospice, Cindi told me she was sure God has a purpose in her life, she was searching for that purpose. She grew so much in love and forgiveness those last months.

Every time I visited in hospice, I wondered if it was for the last time. I would hate to leave. I promised to be back when I could.
Once I got home today, I called a mutual friend. I learned from her, Cindi asked not to have a memorial service. In this one thing, I would defy her wishes. A memorial service isn't for those who go on. It is an opportunity for those who remain to voice their respects.
I am already grieving. My time to spend with my friend has ended, even if her hours remain.


Thursday, September 1, 2016

Trying a new Recipe- or two!

One's deep freezer needs to be cleaned out periodically. Use up all the good stuff that has slunk to the back or bottom and forgotten about. In hopes that we will be moving, I am trying to buy less food from the grocery store, and use up what we have on hand.
(This, in itself, is trying to me. I have some deep seated need to have the cupboards and freezer full of food. I do use it up, but I also refill it as quickly as I use something.)
Anyway, this morning I pulled out a package of pork tenderloins. I asked Mr Google for slow cooker recipes for pork tenderloin. Several caught my eye. I realized as it was thawing, I also have avocados and tomatillos that really HAVE to be used today. So I asked Mr Google to suggest recipes using all three. Mr Google suggested this site: Our Full Plate . The Avocado Tomatillo sauce sounded worth trying... and it had a companion recipe suggestion of Pernil Pork. I chose a Pernil Pork recipe from All recipes.com. Of course, I was forced to make a couple of small modifications in order to avoid going to the grocery store. I don't have any fresh (OR dried) oregano. But I do have Italian seasoning, which contains oregano. And I substituted regular chili powder for the dried poblano (ancho) peppers.
The tenderloin is cooking in the slow cooker. I haven't started the Avocado Tomatillo sauce yet, as it takes less than 10 minutes to make, and supper isn't until six.
These are considered to be Puerto Rican dishes. To my knowledge, I have never tried Puerto Rican food before. Expanding my horizons! I read that okra is a vegetable often served with Puerto Rican dishes... and I have Okra to use up. I don't care how they do it in PR, mine will be fried!
If these two dishes turn out well, they may find their way onto Cooking with the Cow Crew. Any tweaks to make the dishes "mine" will be noted.
 The recipe got mixed good reviews. Daniel liked it a whole lot. Mr C said that it was good, but maybe his tastes ran to more traditional American pork recipes. Sam liked it quite much as well. Dan said the avocado tomatillo sauce just added the extra zing to the recipe to make it really grand.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Still not standing on the rug... but I may have a toe or two gripping it!

How many times since we moved from our house in Central High, Oklahoma, have we been "fixing to" buy a house? I used to post and revel in each one. Time after time, one thing after another- the rug got pulled from under me. We continued to rent. It has been twelve and a half years since we moved from our home in Central High. It was my very first home to own.
So very much life (and death) has happened. I now have eight and three quarters more grand babies than I had back then. My jobs have come and gone. We (almost?) moved to Ohio. All my kids are out of school (out of homeschool, anyway) if not out of the nest. Tom has retirement thoughts starting to creep into his mind.
The house we rented in the Decatur countryside for more than ten years was sold, and we had to move to a leased house, as we didn't find the *right* place in the allotted time between the Decatur rental selling and our enforced moving date. Tom said we would begin looking seriously for a place to buy, come  August, when we moved to Gravette. True to his word, he started seriously looking.
And we found a place. Beyond what *I* had imagined, property wise. The house is *just* a double wide mobile home, 30 years old. However, it is in immaculate condition. It was "over built", with extra insulation and 2x6 walls. Located on 30 acres, across the state line into Oklahoma. The location has quite a number of advantages. For one thing, the tax rate is about 1/10th what a similar place would be in Benton county, AR. It has a buried storm shelter, poured in place. (As opposed to being a pre-built unit buried in the ground.) The acreage is heavily wooded. Which I could translate to actuality: 29.5 acres of trees that have NEVER been harvested. Oak, hickory, walnut, pecan, and many more.
I still hardly dare to hope we are closing on this deal. Everything is going along PERFECTLY. The place came onto the market as we began looking. The home loan has been approved, the inspection didn't reveal any major flaws. The property has been in the seller's family for generations. I am optimistic about it. The banker said we may be able to close by the first week of October.
 Still, I am not standing on the rug. Not investing my hopes in it just yet.
Keep us in your prayers!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Coping with Life...

Daniel and I had a nice drive to Texas this past weekend. It was a quick trip, down and back, for me. On the way, we stopped by a left a book for Nickole with her Grammy. Grammy Lynn remains in a nursing home in Marlow. I had forgotten to take phone numbers, and wasn't sure Nickole and Glenn would be up- or if they would even be home. It seemed most expedient to drop the book off with Lynn.
Having gotten quite an early start, we arrived in San Angelo in the early afternoon. I was scheduled to fly out on a plane leaving at 5:00 am the next morning. Ben was working until 7:00am, so we went to see Ben at the Fire Station. Becky and kids met us there- it was a first time for her kids to get to see the fire trucks up close! After the Fire Station, we made a quick trip to WalMart, and then just visited with Becky at Ben and Paula's house. Still being summer, it was getting (relatively) late when Becky headed home about dusk. Dan and Paula and I visited briefly, then all headed for bed early. Paula had brewed us an herbal night time tea. It was tasty and did a great job putting Dan and I right to sleep. I asked her for the recipe.
3:00 am arrived all too quickly. Dan and I dressed, and arrived at the San Angelo Airport just before 4:00 am. Dan dropped me off and drove away. I went to the kiosk to check in... and learned the flight had been delayed until 10:00 am. I waited in line a good 10 minutes to ask where a pay phone might be located. Finally, a young man with a cell phone joined the line behind me, and called Dan to come back and get me.
I went back to Ben and Paula's house, and Dan and I went back to sleep. A couple of hours later, Paula entered the bedroom where I was sleeping to turn off the fan. When I sat up, it really startled her! She said "You're still HERE! " As previously suggested by Dan, I asked, "Did we oversleep?" He is out on his couch, cracking up.
Ben arrived home a short while later, and we got to visit again! EVERYONE came along to take me back to the airport. The flight crew that had been missing that morning finally arrived on the first flight IN to San Angelo. (Even flight crews can are subject to cancelled flights!) We were loaded and then delayed a bit as the crew had to do all the routine pre-flight checks. I got to DFW in time to RUN to another terminal (making use of the Sky-Tram as well) and narrowly miss the flight to XNA.
I am convinced the gate personnel are trained to not make eye contact with passengers and to blatantly ignore their presence. I remained pointedly invisible even after the flight departed. Eventually, I walked away and happened on a gate crew person-in-training. She met my gaze and offered to assist me. I was set up for a 2:35 departure back at the other end of the terminal. THAT flight also kept getting pushed later and later. It was about 3:40 when I finally boarded (LAST SEAT!), and almost 4:30 when I arrived at XNA.
Monday was a trial to me. I just have to leave it at that for now.
Before bed, I attempted to make some of the tea for Tom and Sam, that Paula had made for Dan and I. I need to consult Paula again for the proportions- both Tom and Sam gagged, but bravely chugged down the tea. It was nothing at all like hers!

Althea, the cutest baby triceratops ever!

Jasher

Today I have been full of misery and gripes from yesterday. I walked the dog- and while out saw a good stand of elderberries. After the walk, I put my buckets and scissors in the car, and drove the countryside for almost two hours, foraging for elderberries. Once back at the house, I washed them and removed them from the stems. I put two trays on to dehydrate, and made what I expected to be a small batch of elderberry 'syrup'. I read a number of recipes, and virtually all of the ones using the syrup for flu and respiratory relief used the same ingredients. I had all those ingredients on hand.
I wish you could see the lovely deep color! As I harvested the berries, I noted that I was in ragweed higher than my head. It wasn't yet in full bloom. My brain put these thoughts together... The ragweed and the elderberries are growing side by side. Ragweed causes respiratory distress, elderberry helps. Is elderberry the best relief for ragweed allergies? Is it really so simple that God provides the cure right along side of the problem?
***** A note on my beautiful "elderberry" syrup. After taking it for a week, God put an article in my face that may have saved several lives. The article had a picture of deadly poke berries among other plants to avoid... guess what my syrup was actually made from? Yep. I had cooked up a batch of deadly syrup. If you forage for wild growing foods, please be 100% certain of your harvest. There are images of the poke berry plant mixed in with images of the elderberry plant in the online searches- don't go by searching images alone! *****
*** In doing some research on poke berries, I have found they are used for some medicinal purposes, in VERY diluted amounts for short terms. However, making a concentrated syrup from them is NOT a good thing.***