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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Our Two Campers

Sorry I haven't posted lately--been very busy. This photo pretty much explains it.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Sunday Serenity?

It's really Monday and truth be told, Sunday wasn't exactly serene. We returned Saturday night from a whirlwind 20-hour trip--ten each way--to pick up our precious grandbabies for a week's stay with us. We all managed to make it to church yesterday morning, then we spent the rest of the day adjusting to our new routine. Today's going more smoothly, and soon I hope to report that we've hit our stride. Photos coming soon.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Getting Closer

In less than a week, we'll be sharing our space with two little campers. Although Ethan, four, is a veteran, this will be 16-month-old Ellie's first time to attend Camp Grandma. We're setting up toys and play tents at home, cleaning the camper--with tentative plans for an overnighter at a local State park--firming up an outdoor photo shoot, and gathering vital provisions--whole milk, healthy snacks, diapers, and camp pj's, to name a few.

We'll see how it goes.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sunday Serenity

He who forms the mountains, creates the wind, and reveals his thoughts to man, he who turns dawn into darkness, and treads the high places of the earth--the Lord God Almighty is his name.

~ Amos 4:13

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Love Affair with Heirloom White

Buying new accessories for our home does not appeal to me as much as restoring the old. Maybe my attitude is fueled by the green movement, by empathy--after all, I don't want to be tossed out because of my ever-increasing imperfections--or by frugality. Most likely it's all of the above.

Enter Heirloom White, my new best friend. Back in the 80's the hubs gave me a cute country pine clock. A few coats of rich, creamy white extended its life and gave our wannabe cottage-style bedroom a touch of charm.

Next up, a couple of old mixed metal-blotched frames, now Heirloom White, display two IKEA note cards I've had for a few years, creating another bedroom wall brightener.

A dated oval print framed in dark pine became a chalkboard adorning the small space just off the kitchen. (I had my doubts, but a few coats of chalkboard spray paint did indeed transform the print into a message board!)

And now for a work in progress--an old pine chest to paint and place under the bedroom clock, next to a comfy chair and basket of books. I'm mulling over the idea of stenciling a monogram onto the front panel. By the way, I'm not a great painter. Thank goodness my HW spray paint is so forgiving.

Ain't love grand!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Temporary Trials

This was written in November of 2006, after Ethan's corrective surgery.

Since his cleft lip surgery, my little grandson, Ethan, has to wear splints on his arms to keep him from touching his mouth. They come off only when he has a bath or his clothes are changed. He's also being fed through a syringe. Unlike the bottle, the small syringe requires two to three pauses to refill. As you can imagine, he gets pretty frustrated--downright mad--about these inconveniences that are beyond his understanding. You might be amused to know that I tried showing him the syringe plunger pulling in the formula, hoping he'd get the picture and say to himself, "Oh well, my food is coming and everything's okay." After all, he's very smart.

Watching Ethan get so upset about the temporary trials that we know are ultimately for his good, I couldn't help but think about my own conduct when things are "going wrong" in my life. Do I trust that it's all working together for good, or do I scream at God for immediate relief?

I want to be a spiritual grownup, to cultivate a keener awareness that in all things, my Father knows what's best for me.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Mexican Rice

When a south-of-the-border entree is offered here in Rheteeta's* kitchen, the meal is considered incomplete without a side of Mexican rice. Until now, my easy way out has been to buy and prepare a mix from the supermarket. This evening, I finally got around to trying this recipe. Inexpensive and delicious, it received an A+ from the hubs, so I thought you might enjoy it, too.

*Rheteeta is a nickname my mom sometimes used for me. I think it has a Mexican sound appropriate to this post. My maiden name was Martin, which of course made my full nickname--seriously--RhetEEta MartEEnee. Mom had a quirky sense of humor.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Camp Prep Postscript

So that grandma's two favorite campers might enjoy some yummy frozen treats, I felt compelled to order a popsicle mold--makes ten at a time--based on Alice's review over at A Number of Things. I love the look of sheer enjoyment on the face of her little taste tester!

Preparing for Camp

It's almost time for Camp Grandma, an annual summer event around here, and I'm having a ridiculous amount of fun with the preparations:

Acquire garage sale tents for indoor play - check (Sheba can't wait!)
Store a nutritious baked treat in the freezer - check
Determine site for real campout in RV this year - check
Arrange for outdoor photo shoot - check

To do:
Make--or purchase--pj's for little campers
Shop for bubble machine
Head east for two beautiful grandchildren
Keep them entertained on long drive back
Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!

There's been some talk of holding the babies for ransom. Maybe, despite their crazy summer ministry schedule, Mommy and Daddy will be able to carve out a few days to come our way at camp's end. If not, we will reluctantly transport our happy campers back home, smothering them with hugs and kisses to last until the next adventure.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Trust and Obey

I remember my departed dad's favorite hymn, Trust and Obey.

When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word, what a glory He sheds on our way! While we do His good will, He abides with us still, and with all who will trust and obey. Trust and obey, for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Dad was far from musical. In fact, he couldn't carry a tune. But he loved his Lord. Looking back, I remember an uncomplicated man with a straightforward faith lived out by trust and obedience. So when I played the piano at the old church, and folks in the congregation were asked to select their favorite hymns to be sung, I knew what Dad's was going to be. Always. I could turn to it with confidence before he got the words out: Trust and Obey! What a cherished lesson lived out before this kid's eyes. I'm learning, Dad. Thanks!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Portrait Peasant Tops and Dresses

One of my favorite clothing patterns for a certain little granddaughter is the Portrait Peasant from the Scientific Seamstress.

First I made a test-for-size elongated top, shown above, with ruffled hem and short sleeves. I used some fabric from my stash--the same floral utilized here--and mailed the top off to Elliana's mom for an assessment.

After she assured me of a good fit, I used the same pattern to make Ellie's dedication dress, shown right and below. (A baby dedication is similar to a baby baptism.) This time I employed the cap sleeves, ruffled sleeve/neck edges, empire bodice and mid-calf skirt. Carla's patterns offer a number of style variations and lengths as well as a wide range of sizes.

We were privileged--as were the other grandparents--to be with Ellie and family on this very special day. My heart is filled with gratitude and praise to God for His many, many blessings!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Chermanda's Brownies

Chermanda--unusual name, you say? This delectable deep dish brownie recipe offers two variations--the first from my friend, Cher-yl and the second from my daughter, A-manda. These yummy treats--using Cheryl's variation--did a disappearing act at the church picnic; therefore, I can only present to you a "before baking" photo.

Cheryl's Version

3/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
1-1/2 cups sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3 eggs
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup baking cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or peanut butter chips (I like chocolate chunks.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 8" square pan. In bowl, blend melted butter, sugar, and vanilla. Add eggs; beat well with spoon. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; gradually add to egg mixture, beating until well blended. Stir in chips. Spread into prepared pan. Bake 40-45 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan. Cool completely before cutting (yeah, right).

Amanda's Version

3/4 cup cocoa
2 cups sugar
1 cup margarine or butter, melted
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9" square pan. Melt butter. Meanwhile, in mixing bowl stir together the cocoa and sugar. Add melted butter and stir. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. Add flour and salt; combine just until smooth. Stir in nuts. Turn into prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake 50 minutes or until brownies test done. Cool (okay, sure) and cut into 12-16 squares.

Either version of these rich, sweet, dark and decadent squares is a rare treat from my kitchen, but when offered, we throw caution to the wind and embrace them fully.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Our Cheerleader (and so much more!)

Originally penned November 2007

I was just coming off a brief devotional time over coffee when it hit me.

While clipping dead herb growth with the lyrics to the hymn, "Great Is Thy Faithfulness," running through my mind, along came the part that says, "Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide." So all my life I thought of the word "cheer," there, as "cheer up." Sunshine, blue skies, la la la--but today, over dead oregano and marjoram stems, I believe the Lord put a new slant on it. He's cheering us on, saying, "You go! I'm on your side. I love you more than your mind can grasp this side of heaven. If you fall, I'm here to pick you up. I am your loving Daddy-Abba. You can make it...".

So if I get disgruntled and/or discouraged today--quite likely--I hope to remember I have a Cheerleader--the Creator of the Universe, no less--to set my mind and feet on higher ground. "If God be for us, who can be against us?" (From Romans, Chapter 8)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Melissa's Deelish, Nutrish Banana Bread

Before the midday heat arrived, I baked this wonderful banana bread using three "dead bananas" that I'd stored in the freezer for just such an occasion. I love the plentiful size and appearance of Melissa's tube-pan version, but since there are only two mouths to feed around here--not counting Sheba's--I decided to split my batter between two loaf pans. I sprinkled some pecans--spritzed with baking spray to avoid burning--on one loaf for me and the hubs to enjoy right away. The other loaf--sans nuts in or on the batter--was wrapped, still warm, and whisked to the chest freezer in anticipation of Camp Grandma* later this month. What little palate could refuse a slice of homemade "naner bread," as I used to call it with my own girl?

While you're checking out Melissa's awesome recipe, I suggest you explore her sweet Alabama homestead. It's full of delightful surprises.

*Camp Grandma is an annual event on Raspberry Hill. Stay tuned.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Experimenting with Mums

My sweet mom was a gardener. She knew what she was doing with her soil and seeds and succulents. (Succulents? I needed something garden-related starting with the letter "s" there. Truth is, I don't recall any cacti growing in our Michigan backyard. Sunflowers, maybe?) We often found her happily weeding and feeding until almost dark. When company came--and Mom loved to extend hospitality--a garden tour was customary. Anyone else remember that practice, back in the day? An evening with friends wasn't complete until all the ladies went outside to look at one's flower bed(s). Mom's peace rose was her pride and joy.

Unfortunately, I didn't inherit the gardening gene; hence this experiment with mum clippings, true to my trial-and-error planting style. Remember the bumper sticker that proclaimed, "Don't Follow Me, I'm Lost?" It applies here. I think I read somewhere that it's possible to root new mums by pinching back an established plant, then transplanting the pinched-off portions into pots with potting soil and root stimulator, placing them out of direct sunlight, and misting as needed. So here we are--some random mum clippings, a little treated soil, and optimistic me. I'll keep you "posted." Meanwhile, I would welcome your gardening advice with open gloves.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

A Sweet Little Garage Sale Find

A neighbor no longer had just the right spot for this tiny treasure of a lamp. At first sight, I knew it was coming home with me. It sits atop a hundred-year-old highboy in our master bedroom. I turn it on at dusk. It casts an inviting glow, and I smile.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

America, the Beautiful

"The Bible teaches that the Christian should be law-abiding. The Bible also teaches loyalty to country. A loyalty and love of country does not mean that we cannot criticize certain unjust laws that may discriminate against special groups. The Bible says that God is no respecter of persons. All should have equal opportunities. The government of God is to be our model."

~ excerpted from The Social Obligations of a Christian by Billy Graham

Thanks to Chuck and Sharon Barnes for allowing me to photograph their American flag.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Making Lists

"I'm an obsessive list-maker. It's a simple way of feeling like I'm in control, and it gives me a sense of what errands and tasks are manageable. The best part is when enough things get crossed off and the list gets messy and I can make a new list and assess my priorities all over again. For a while I tried making lists on an electronic organizer, but I finally gave up because I missed the satisfaction of running my pencil through an item. It's just not the same with a Delete key."

~ from the delightful book, Simple Pleasures

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Easy-Fit Pants

The Scientific Seamstress is among my favorite pattern designers. Recently I made a pair of lounge pants using this floral from my stash and Carla's Easy-Fit Pants pattern. They are so comfy, I'm wearing them out washing them. I put them right back on, still warm from the dryer. Like many of you who sew, I have so much fun stitching for others that I tend to go without, but desperate times call for...making another pair!