Friday, January 31, 2014

The Less Project: Update I

Four unexpected days at home!
One would think I'd have used them to great advantage.  Heaven knows my mind races with possibilities every weekend of what I'd accomplish with an extra day at home.
Alas, give me a few snow days and my brain becomes cooked oatmeal.
Where were those brilliant ideas?
For the first two days, they stayed as buried as the grass in the yard, and I hibernated with a tea-cup and blog-reading.
Useless, I tell you, perfectly useless!
Yesterday I cleaned my house like a madwoman, paid bills, made a menu, all in a desperate effort to not be a shirker.
Today, temps are predicted to rise above freezing, and I may be able to venture to Walmart (shudder) and purchase yarn to give arm-knitting a shot.
So, instead of sharing snow-induced productivity (because clearly there is none),
I'll give you an update on the the Less Project.
My One Word for 2014 is Less, and it means, in part, less stuff.  
I've made some progress in the main living areas, starting with the bookcases.

These aren't built-ins; they're my husband's truimph with pre-fab bookcases from Lowes.  I can't imagine that wall without them. 
I realize they aren't perfectly styled, but they are organized into his side:
(Yes, I know this picture should be cropped, but Big Red is rushing me to the door for our snow-escape. )
and her side:

and the books are grouped by genre.

Then there was my nemesis--the desk area.

It took me two days to clean out all the accumilated paper clutter, but I managed to empty the bookcase, clean the desk, and create a much smaller and controlled mail-dump area by the back door.
Then in a burst of energy last weekend, I made this ever-so imperfect gallery wall.
It isn't quite finished, but it has lots of my favorite things already.   
Confession: I couldn't find Big Red's level (he has less projects of his own), so I eyeballed it.  I also reused some existing nail holes, but it doesn't have to be perfect to be done.  
When I escape from my snowbound house, I shall purchase glitter for monograms on the clipboards.
(Gold glitter letters were a teen request; we can make that happen. )
The fabulous sign in the center was a Christmas present from one of my dearest friends.
I blogged about that song here. 
The clothesline at the top holds my memory verses from John.

These are courting cards--mini love letters between my grandparents when they were dating.  
The original texting.

With the main living area of our home cleaned and cleared, I already feel like I can breath a bit easier. 
Here's to more less.
Linking up here, and here, and here

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Three-Word Wednesday: Pair of Pancakes

It's a beautiful snow day here at the 'House.
Unlike yesterday when I was awake before dawn, today I woke to sunshine glittering all silver and blue over the snow.

(I say a prayer for teachers and students stuck overnight in schools for whom this storm holds no fun and zero beauty.  Can you imagine?)
Here, winter days are cooking days.
In addition to soup and cupcakes, we had two kinds of pancakes yesterday.
One is a favorite of the grown-ups.
The other wins top honors with teens.
One is healthful; one is more like dessert.
This morning I am having one of each; the early bird gets choices.

Oatmeal Apple Pancakes
(recipe from my sister; I've no idea where she got it)
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 egg
1 cup flour (a multi-purpose gluten-free flour works fine)
2 T. baking powder
pinch salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 cup nuts (pecans, walnuts, or almonds all are delicious)
3 apples, chopped very fine or grated
butter for the pan
Combine oatmeal and boiling water and let stand 5 minutes.  Add egg, flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Mix. Stir in milk, melted butter, apples,and nuts.  Spoon batter onto greased griddle; cook until bubbly and dry on edges. 

(Because the batter is dense, it takes a lot longer for these to cook than your average pancake; be patient.)  Flip and cook through.  Delicious plain, but butter and maple syrup put these over the top!

Ricotta Pancakes
( from the Sunny Point Cafe cookbook, Breakfast and Beyond by April Moon)
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
(or replace all these with 2 c. self-rising flour--one of the advantages of being a Southern cook.)
2 T. sugar
6 T. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 c. ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups milk
1 large egg
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
pinch nutmeg
oil for brushing on griddle
Sift dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl.  Whisk together butter, ricotta, milk, egg, vanilla, and nutmeg in a medium bowl.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the ricotta mixture.  Stir together with a wooden spoon until just combined.  Batter will be lumpy.  Spoon 1/4 cup batter onto a greased griddle at medium-high heat.  Once bubbles appear, turn the cakes and cook until lightly browned.  Serve with syrup or berries.
(Delicious with chocolate chips and almonds!)

Enjoy your  day!  What's cooking at your house?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tuesday at Dark Thirty

It's Tuesday, dark and early,
and I've exercised (go, me) 
and made the coffee...
and school got cancelled.
Ah, well.
No sleeping in for me on our predicted snow day.
Instead, I sit in pre-dawn darkness and count blessings, 
a day late by Blogsphere standards
 because I spent yesterday evening
blessed by a long conversation with my best friend.
(She's also my hairdresser--long talks and fresh color for the win!)
 Regardless of the day of the week,
are you counting gifts?
Seeing small helps me live large.

140. snow day!'
141. heat
142. a good night's sleep in a warm bed
143. just a hint of flavored coffee mixed with French roast--yum
144. Lemon Cheesecake Muffins--'cause who doesn't need another lemon muffin?
145. watching sisters hug one another willingly!
146. long conversations with a friend
147. a friend who immediately "gets" your dream
148. the discipline of early exercise
149. watching God's people step up to the plate to meet a need
150.  Hearing my mother's voice on the phone
Linking up with Multitude Monday

Sunday, January 26, 2014

We Have Seen

The words ring out confidently.
We have seen His glory!
The glory of the One and Only Son
sent from the Father
full of grace and truth--
unfailing love and faithfulness.

When I recognize Jesus for Who He is,
the only Son of God,
one with Him in the Trinity,
then I can see the fullness of God,
the glory of the Creator of the Universe
Who was and is and always shall be.
And the sunrise shouts
Behold the glory.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Lemon Pound Cake Muffins

My dad loved lemon; it was his favorite flavor, and we were always on a quest to find yummy lemon treats.
We never had a chance to share these muffins with him, but making them brings him to mind.
DD#1 whipped them up on a cold Sunday.  We tell her that if nursing-her dream job-doesn't work out, culinary school is the definite Plan B.
She made these with GF baking mix from King Arthur; substitute it for the flour and leavening if you're going gluten-free.
Delicate and delicious, these are perfect with a mug of steaming tea or coffee.
Lemon Pound Cake Muffins
(from Taste of Home)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
or replace flour, salt, and soda with 1 3/4 cups King Arthur gluten-free baking mix
2 cups confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in
the sour cream and extracts. Combine the flour, salt and baking
soda; add to creamed mixture just until moistened.

Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups three-fourths full. Bake at
400° for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the
center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan
to a wire rack.

Combine the glaze ingredients; drizzle over muffins. Serve warm.
Yield: 1 dozen.


One of the things I love about photography is that it taught me to see.
Angles, light, shadow--pictures form in my head even when my camera isn't in hand.
Counting gifts teaches seeing. 
John 1 says "we have seen His glory"--
and I wonder, what if that is not just for disciples who saw Him in the flesh;
what if it is also for us, that with vision, we also could see His glory.
Lord, teach me to see.
It's Monday, 
and a day off from school (yay),
 and I am relishing this day at home and counting gifts.
101. Mama doing so much better!
102. frost so heavy it looks like snow
103. fire in the fireplace
104. Lemon Pound Cake muffins
105. a rainbow of fruit in a wooden bowl
106. my bifocals ;0
107. someone speaking His Word to my child--and she listened
108. The Word will win because the Light wins
109.Tiny blossoms on baby's breath
110. sleeping in
111. Jan Karon's books--like comfort food for my mind
112. the earache and snow that kept me from visiting Mama this weekend wasn't around when she had her surgery
113. Jesus made His tabernacle with me

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Light

It was light that compelled me.
One glance at the thermometer warned me that there was no warmth in it, but I waited as long as I could into the afternoon before I venture outdoors.
And, oh, the light!
It bleaches grey branches to white, sharpens blue sky into sapphire.
By the second lap, there are needles in my chest.
My jagged breathing echoes my jagged prayers, sound put to silent fear that light would retreat, that darkness would overcome again.  
At the crest of the hill, the light shines on my face, too bright, too intense to look upon.
I bow my head; 
diamonds sparkle on my eyelashes, and I breathe in sun and cold and blue 
and believe that Light will win.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

I am Just

I am just
a woman on a walk,
breathing in cold air,
concentrating on the mud slipping under my feet,
but longing to watch the moon rise over the pond, suspended in graying sky.
It and the cold snatch my breath away.
It's there again,
out the winter-dirty window,
pale white orb on a black sky
where otherwise there is nothing visible in the darkness.
I am just ordinary,
but I have seen the moon rise.
This week 
I am just
a woman breathing in Grace,
longing to see the hand of the Jehovah Rapha, 
the LORD my Healer,
where there was otherwise nothing but the darkness.
I am just ordinary,
but I have seen Hope rise.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Hard Eucharisteo

So we begin our year in the hospital.  My mother had brain surgery yesterday because of injuries sustained in a fall.  It will be a long journey back.
Things may be quiet here for a while as we wait and pray for the Lord's best.

Monday, January 6, 2014

A Formula for Gratitude

In studying 1 Thessalonians, I get hung up over in chapter 5:16-18 on three of the simplest verses in the whole book.
Rejoice always,
pray without ceasing,
in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Easier said than done--or is it just me?
Yet, these things are God's will in Christ Jesus for me, 
so He will make it possible for me to do those things.  
In me, impossible.
In Him, all these things possible.
This morning I read a quote from Charles Spurgeon that brought these verse together for me.
"When joy and prayer are married, their first born child is gratitude."
Joy + prayer = gratitude.
When I seek joy with a heart that's in continuous communication with my Father, gratitude for Him will flow.
Eucharisteo precedes the miracle,
but chairo (rejoicing) and proseuchomai (praying) precede eucharisteo. 
I love that.
I did some gift-counting in 2013, but I'm starting my list over and working toward 1000 in 2014.
  (I gave myself a head start.)
1. warm house
2. cold winter sunshine
3. blue skies
4 hot coffee with cream
5. gluten free banana bread with coconut
6. the hands that made the bread
7. raspberries from our summer garden
8. Big Red
9. a new, gentle alarm that makes me smile (a little) when it goes off
10. DD#2 and her sense of humor
11. under warm covers
12. a plan for the paper clutter that tries to eat my house
13. Hillsong's Aftermath album
14. a plan for Sunday morning
15. hot soup
16. electricity
17. a paycheck
18. giving
19. & 20 two of my favorite sisters in Christ
21. a job
22. blue mason jars with white daisies
23. 1 Thessalonians
24. God gives God.
25. All I really need I already have in Christ
26. I am His and He is mine
27. What He starts, He'll finish
28. bacon
29.& 30 appliances to make life easier
31. a new journal
32. years of old journals
33. onions cooking in olive oil
34. morning dark
35. first light
36. a clean floor
37. the testimony of the year
38. snow day!
39. Jesus Project verses
40.  Jesus was in the Beginning
41. The Word is God.
42. Sunday morning worship with our little group
43. morning quiet in my house
It's a long list!  Keep me accountable for counting!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Belong to the Day

Since the day after Christmas, I've been in 1 Thessalonians.
A manuel for ministry, if there ever was one.
This morning, 1 Thessalonians 5 called out one word: light.

We're to be sons and daughter of light, characterized by light,
full of hope, full of self-control.
We belong to the day.
As I look out my windows at the first snowfall of the winter and secretly wish, on this last Friday of Christmas break, that it had fallen next week when we go back to school, I realize that I need to be light.
Though I'd love to stay cocooned in my house, there is darkness where, for this season, I am called to be light,
to belong to the day.

In 1 Thessalonians, it's striking how often Paul says, "Follow our example.  Do as we did to you," and I wonder, really, if I can ever in good conscience tell someone to do as I do, to be as I am.
I want to be characterized by light, living the hope I believe.
Belong to the day.