Thursday, July 26, 2012


The days have been a little crazy lately & I've been hiding out, living life & thinking on some things that will come in later posts...but for now, here's some snaps to show you a bit of what's been going on!

Mike & I celebrated three years of marriage.
God is so good.
There is no other man on earth for me.

Drives for my job have taken me past this building several times.
I wish I worked in a building that had flowers cascading over it.
Such beauty.

Other drives for work had me commuting to the Big City for a week.
I'm glad, glad, glad that it's over.
Interstate highways & construction just don't mix well.
We've been eating good stuff like this southern Indiana grown melon from The Big Peach.
Thanks, Dad!

And this is the grand sum total of our harvest (so far!) of our
14 tomato plants.  Yep, 14 plants & 2 tomatoes.
Summer isn't over yet!
I've driven to work under skies this brilliant...

& ended the day on our front porch gazing at skies this full of fire.
We've been getting some projects done...

like this cedar 'house' for our lawn mower & some tools.
I'm crazy happy that we no longer have a lawn mower on our front porch!

I'm also crazy happy about this pull out shelf system we installed in
my one big kitchen cabinet.  I had been saving my Discover card cash-back
rewards to purchase a Lowe's gift card.  After the giftcard this shelving
system only cost us $17!  $100 was covered by Discover.
We've had a couple of rainy moments...but no rainy days.
The drought of 2012 drags on, trying, building, & stretching
the faith of so many of us.
They predicted rain for today.  We got about three minutes of
downpour this morning but nothing else so far.
Will it or won't it?
Only God knows.
And I've had short hair for more than six weeks already!
I went in last week for my first trim.
I still love it.
And I'm still shocked when the gas station clerk or the clothing store
clerk stop me & ask, didn't you used to have longer hair?
How do they remember me?
Kinda scary...sorta sweet...another reminder to be a bright light for Christ.

And that's the news from our corner of the world! 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Going For The Gold!

If you know me at all, you know that I'm not really competitive.  I don't know if it's a self-defense mechanism because I'm not super good at much of anything or what.  When it comes to contests/games/whatever, I just usually don't get too much of a fire under my hiney, if you know what I mean.  But every once in a while something hits me just right &  Like Donkey Kong.

It's county fair time around here.  The 4-Her's have really got it going on this year.  My niece Maddie has something like 19 projects on display, including her two pigs, Christmas & Bob.  My nephew Caleb has nine or ten, including his two pigs, Paco & Porky.  Say that ten times fast, Paco & Porky, Paco & Porky, Taco &'s not easy!

Anyway, I'm not one of those adults who gets their craftiness together & exhibits at the fair.  My sister did this year though & her stuff was fabulous - a violet, some blackberries, a wreath she made - all beautiful & blue ribbon worthy.

The thing that tripped my trigger this year is a little King Arthur Flour sponsored brownie making contest.  I kind of waited to the last minute to get some inspiration together for what I wanted to make but I think I came up with a fairly good idea - Coffee Infused Brownies with Hazelnut Streusel Topping.  I was thinking that coffee & chocolate go together fabulously & that the best coffee has some hazelnut going on.  I wanted to stay away from the whole peanut butter or cream cheese or oreo or nutella influences.  I figured that I needed to be a little more creative.

I searched online for a basic brownie recipe & then I tweaked it to make it a little more intense.  Here's the recipe with my tweaks:

1 cup butter
1 cup cocoa
2 cups sugar
1 T hot water
2 T instant coffee
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt

Then I made up this streusel topping (it's pretty basic):

1 cup hazelnuts, chopped
scant 1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup raw sugar
1 T cocoa
4 T butter

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9x13" pan with foil & grease lightly.  In a large mixing bowl, melt butter.  Add cocoa & blend well.  Add sugar & mix well.  Dissolve coffee in hot water.  Pour into cocoa mixture & mix well.  Add eggs one at a time & beat in well by hand.  Stir in vanilla, flour, & salt.  Pour into the baking dish & spread out evenly.

To prepare the streusel, place hazelnuts in a food processor & process until chopped well.  Pour hazelnuts into mixing bowl & add flour, raw sugar, & cocoa.  Mix well.  Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter until you have pea-sized pieces.  Spread over brownies.

Bake for 30-35 minutes.  Cool & enjoy!

These are seriously pretty good (not that I'm prejudiced toward myself or anything!).  Rich, chocolatey, coffee-infused, crunchy hazelnuts, & yum...I'm seriously going to win.

Actually, probably not but that's all right.  They were super fun to make & share.  So make some, share some, & have some fun this weekend!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Introducing the 'Cherry Bird!'

I'm having some focus issues today; please tell me that I'm not the only one.

Recently here at work things have been kind of slow. By slow I mean we only dispensed 8 doses today.  And that type of slow translates into hours of trying to keep busy day after day while wondering if I will be employed next week or next month.  It's a bit sad really.  When we first started working here my boss & I made jokes about whether we could stand working together for the next thirty years or so since we are close to the same age & that time frame would get us to retirement.  Almost ten years in, we can't make jokes about it anymore.  I've hesitated about saying anything on here regarding the situation because all I can do at this point is speculate.  And with these long slow days, I've got plenty of time to speculate!  

I've been trying not to dwell on the 'what ifs' & 'maybes' & 'if onlys' & 'I wishes' & all of those other unproductive thought patterns.  And at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I know I struggled with these things before Mom's death but it's much harder now.  That's no excuse; it's just the reality I'm dealing with.  The work still has to be done to try to align my thoughts & thinking patterns with God's.  And He'll help me do it - if I'm willing & we all know that is the tricky part.

So while I've been here at work today I have tried to occupy myself with some grateful/joyful/happy thoughts that have nothing whatsoever to do with loss/grief/worry/anxiety/fearofimpendingdoom.  

And the best part of my day so far...the Cherry Bird!

I know this pic isn't the best, but if you could see this
thing in real life you would holler, "Cherry Bird!!"

I hope that your day & your weekend is full of Cherry Bird goodness!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Holiday Hangover!

I've mentioned before that Thursdays feel like the second Monday & man!  This week that is especially true!  I've got holiday hangover big time - so sleepy & tired!  I feel like I have just been bounced back from the cruelest short little weekend.  But, thankfully that isn't truly the case & I only have about 10 work hours left before I get a real weekend!  Yeehaw!
I had a super nice Independence Day (I hope you did, too!).  I got up early & met Beth for a run.  I struggled through the heat & some foot pain (dumb bone spur!!).  We managed to put in three miles running & just over a mile walking.  Can I just say that even though it is a bit of physical torture, spending that time with my sister is just the best. After we got done I took my sweaty self home to get cleaned up & do my 4th of July party cooking!  I finally made one of my pinterest recipes, quinoa salad with black beans, avocado, and cumin-lime dressing.  It was super good, if I do say so myself.

We got loaded up & headed over to Mike's sister's house.  It's where I've spent the 4th of July since Mike & I have been together.  It's Independence Day but it's also my father in law's birthday & we have to celebrate!  Gwen & Jason have a pool so we all want to be there enjoying the water, especially since it's been so hot.  Interestingly enough, I didn't struggle too much with missing Mom yesterday.  I think it's because I had already gotten used to not celebrating with her.  I did wish I could have called & had a little chat with her while cooking.  And sadly, I never made connections with Dad.  He worked & then he went to a party at Beth's house & we just missed each other.  I've got some blueberry muffins for him so I'll have to pop by tonight & see him for sure.

Some of Gwen's garden treasures...
Independence Day, for so many of us, is a time to see our family & friends, fire up the grill, jump in the pool, eat watermelon, light fireworks & just enjoy a day of being together.  Just like every other holiday it can become so easy to forget why we have gathered, why we have been given a day off from work & our normal responsibilities.  During the party yesterday I checked my facebook & instagram feeds a time or two & truly enjoyed the posts from friends that recalled my mind to the true purpose of the day.  One of my IG friends posted a pic with this quote:
The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America.  I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival.  It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.  It ought to be solemnized with pomp & parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, & illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.
~John Adams to his beloved Abigail
I think John had the right idea.
God bless America, land that I love...

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Strengthening Rain

Can I let you in on a little secret?  Every time I sit down to write here I feel like my thoughts should be much more organized.  It's a wonder any of my posts make sense...if you could see the mess whirling around in my head right now - yikes!  Sometimes it keeps me from writing; I second guess myself & say that surely someone else has written about that exact same thought & surely they have expressed it much more effectively than I ever could...but, some days I get over myself & actually put fingers to keyboard.  Because some things just boil up inside of me until they are let out.  Such is the case today.

The past I don't know how long, week or so, I have really struggled with the lack of rain & the unrelenting heat.  I don't mind a hot day; usually I enjoy the heat much more than other folks.  But the weather we have had this summer is unusual & that's nothing you don't already know.  And the heat is exhausting.  And the lack of rain has left me unsettled, too. I've actually fought some anxiety over it.  

It goes a little deeper for me than just being concerned about my tomato plants.  My dad is a landscaper.  In weather like this his work dries up just like the leaves & the grass.  Most years this would be troubling because he would be bored & their finances would be a little tight.  This year, the first year without my mom, in my estimation it's much more devastating.  As I put my watchful eye on my dad my chest tightens with concern.  And I know that in my mind I am making the situation worse than it probably is, but I worry - long lonely evenings were bad enough before but what if his days become long & lonely & empty, too?  What if I have to see my dad even more broken, unable even to work though he wants to?  So I cry & worry & try to come up with solutions & I pray, begging for rain, begging for a break in the weather.  And then I called dad & asked if he could please help us with our yard?  Tackle some weeds & let me pay him.  He agrees to tackle the weeds but we are still debating the pay.

He came over yesterday driving his big blue truck loaded down with his various weed dealing tools.  He walked the yard digging & spraying & reassuring me that we could make something lovely out of the mess we have - providing we get some rain.  And I watched him work & we both sweat through our clothes & my despair just mounted.  The lack of rain & the heat & the continued struggles in my heart & in our family to just cope & keep all makes me feel somehow like the end of the world is bearing down upon us.

Dad finished up his work & we chatted for a few minutes & I wanted to ask him to stay for supper but I didn't have a plan for what we would eat or even when.  I asked him anyway but he declined like I sort of knew he would.  He left with a wave out the window & Mike sat with me on the front steps while I quietly cried out my despair on his strong shoulder.  He comforted me with his silence - there were no words of impatience or correction, just a deep understanding of my weak faith because after all, there is not one of us who hasn't had some struggle like this.  

Eventually we get up & go into the cool house, have some supper, & move about our evening activities.  I was in the kitchen starting a batch of muffins.  He was in the living room finishing his supper.  I glanced out the window & saw RAIN.  At first I was confused because the sky was still bright blue but it was in fact raining.  I squealed & I hollered & I ran into the living room & out the front door right into the cool shower. I let it dot my shirt & make my toes slippery in my flip flops before I came back to the porch & Mike took some pics with his phone.  Lovely, beautiful, wet, cool rain - what a gift, what an answer to prayer, what a balm for my vexed soul.  

The shower didn't last long - maybe five minutes but it was followed later by a thunderstorm that hailed on our new car & left me sopping wet while grocery shopping.  But I pushed my cart through the too-cool air conditioned store, my damp hair sticky & clumpy with wet hairspray, wearing a smile.  I know that one evening of showers can't undo all the drought like conditions we have going on here.  I know that one rain doesn't equal a break in the weather.  And I know that my dad's phone hasn't been ringing off the hook today with customers who are now ready for him to get started on their yards.  But I do know that those little raindrops last night restored my hope.  Maybe things in this life will never be straightened out & maybe the end of the world is breathing down our necks, but through all of it, my God is by my side & when my strength in adversity is faint & small, His has just begun.  I can do all things through Christ...(Philippians 4:13).