Thursday, August 29, 2013

C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis

First, to those of you who have given us Amazon gift cards over the past few years, I am about to use some of them to buy the rest of C.S. Lewis's books for our collection.  If I am going to have a son named for him, I should probably have all the books in my house.  There are a few of his books that I know I have read and own, but I cannot find them.  The last time I remember reading them is in college. Although, college seems not so long ago, it has been five years and who knows where they could be. Really? I graduated with my undergraduate degree five years ago? Wow. Time sure flies by.

I am re-reading Mere Christianity, which I was able to find (I am also reading the Chronicles of Narnia to Martin lately). Recently, I finished the chapter on Christian Marriage. I would quote the whole chapter here, but I believe that would be against the copyrights of the book. So I have just put some particularly great quotes below.  You will have to read the whole chapter, and maybe even the book, to grasp the full, awesome writing of Mr. Lewis.

“But, as I said before, 'the most dangerous thing you can do is to take any one impulse of our own nature and set it up as the thing you ought to follow at all costs'. Being in love is a good thing, but it is not the best thing. There are many things below it, but there are also things above it.  You cannot make it the basis of a while life.  It is a noble feeling, but it is still a feeling. Now no feeling can be relied on to last in its full intensity, or even last at all.  Knowledge can last, principles can last, habits can last; but feelings come and go.”

“People get from books the idea that if you have married the right person you may expect to go on 'being in love' for ever. As a result, when they find they are not, they think this proves they have made a mistake and are entitled to a change – not realizing that, when the have changed, the glamour will presently go out of the new love just as it went out of the old one.”

“That is, I think, one little part of what Christ meant by saying that a thing will not really live unless it first dies. It is simply no good trying to keep any thrill: that is the very worst thing you can do.  Let the thrill go – let it die away – go on through that period of death into the quieter interest and happiness that follows – and you will find you are living in a world of new thrills all the time. But if you decided to make thrills your regular diet and try to prolong them artificially, they will all get weaker and weaker, and fewer and fewer, and you will be a bored, disillusioned old man for the rest of your life.  It is because so few people understand this that you find many middle-aged men and women maundering about their lost youth, at the very age when new horizons ought to be appearing and new doors opening all around them.  It is much better fun to learn to swim than to go on endlessly (and hopelessly) trying to get back the feeling you had when you first went paddling as a small boy.”

“Another notion we get from novels and plays is that 'falling in love' is something quite irresistable; something that just happens to one, like measles.  And because they believe this, some married people throw up the sponge and give in when they find themselves attracted by a new acquaintance.”

“No doubt, if our minds are fill of novels and plays and sentimental songs, and our bodies full of alcohol, we shall turn any love we feel into that kind of love; just as if you have a rut in your path all the rainwater will run into that rut, and if you wear blue spectacles everything you see will turn blueBut that will be our own fault.”

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


During my grad school, I either could be a TA (teaching assistant) or a RA (research assistant).  I chose the easier of the two routes (because I had heard so many of my grad student friends complaining about being slaves to the professor that they were RAs for).  The class that I was assigned to was circuits 1, which was one of my favorite classes.  I loved running the lab and grading the exams for that class.  I also was able to lecture a bit in each of the lab sessions on material that the professor had not had a chance to cover. It was great fun.  During that year, I fell in love with teaching.  Both my parents are teachers and the profession never had appealed to me until grad school.  

After Jared and I were married, the first job that I found was teaching a lab at SU.  Teaching a lower level lab is completely different than teaching a senior level lab.  The students actually want to learn in a senior level lab because it is part of their major. At SU, after dealing with students who were just there because they needed a lab science and had heard that this lab was the easiest, I quickly thought, maybe I do not enjoy teaching as much as I thought.

However, tonight I have decided that I do really enjoy teaching others (and it especially helps if you have good students who want to learn). I started teaching a circuits class again and I LOVE IT!! I miss Martin a little bit, but I love love love teaching this class. I am actually teaching the entire class, which is a first.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Annadrew Quilt

I saw a red and white quilt in a magazine, but I was too cheap to buy the magazine.  So I just started sewing red and white triangles together.  Then I turned them into squares. I borrowed a lot of reds from Cindy because I wanted a lot of different reds. I immediately planned to make this quilt for Anna (before she even started dating Andrew) because I knew she loved reds. 

I couldn't decide how I wanted to lay them all out, so I sketched up a few different patterns.  All that engineering graph paper comes to great use when quilting.  I am glad I have several pads of it left.

Here is the finished product. I love the way that it turned out.  Funny thing, Annadrew has blue walls in their bedroom that go with the blue trim that I picked out. I had no idea at the time I made this.  Also, our walls in our bedroom are also blue now.  They look so much better than these plain white walls.  I will have to take an updated picture.  Actually, you can see one here. They look so much better in blue!!!!

 This is one of my favorite quilts... probably because it took so long to make.  I worked on it for over 15 months... off and on. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

A baby quilt for Ivy

 Most quilts start out as sketches. I usually spend time trying to figure out how to have the smallest amount of waste.

Here are the blocks sewn together. 
 Here I am playing with concepts. 

Here my concepts are starting to take shape. I thought the white space was too blank, so I added birds. 

Finished product. I really like the way it turned out.  It is great when ideas turn out better than you imagined.  Yay. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


 I made this runner for a relative of Mrs. Bailey's.

I threw this together from some scraps that I had.  It was a pattern in a book that I wanted to try.  I need to make some other ones now that I am retired.  ha ha. I have two books of patterns that I have only made two or three out of.  I will have to pull those out again. 

This was one of my first runners that I made. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013


I have decided to start documenting all of my past quilts (and eventually my future quilts too).  This quilt was made for Sarah and Josh's wedding.  It is called Shadowbox.  Cindy bought me the pattern while she was visiting North Dakota. 

My Dad has apple trees, but there is one problem.  They produce really ugly apples. They are speckled black and have many indentations.  We have tried making applesauce out of them a few years, but it is a lot of work.  Most years they just go to waste. This year came up with a new scheme to use them. I want to make apple cider.  My Dad and I have been talking about going in on a press for a while. If we bought a working press, I have calculated that we would make our money back in 5 years at the latest (that is only assuming 5 or 6 gallons each year).  

Well, today when I was online at my parents, I found this tutorial for making a press out of a mud bucket for about $20. I think I should do a trial run before apple season rolls around. If it works, hooray and if it fails, then I will have time to buy a real apple press. My brother came up with the great idea to adapt it to our picnic table so that we wouldn't have to use as much wood. We will see if it works... if it does, I might blog about it. And if it is a huge failure, I might blog about it, as well.  Hopefully, we are able to make some really good apple cider.  :) 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Martin Lewis

A few pictures:
Anna said I needed some pregnancy pictures...  Pregnancy is not easy, but it does lead to a baby, which is worth it. 

Martin is so worth it.  Even right after labor, I told Jared that it wasn't that bad and we could have several more children.  ha. 

 I love seeing Martin interact with his Grandparents.  I love my Mom and Dad. 

Martin loves my phone.  We take a lot of pictures because it is calming to him. 

We also walk around the zoo a lot. I made his hat for his first beach day.  It is a super easy pattern.  Cindy lent it to me.  I will have to post the pattern make and number later. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Best Strawberry Pie

Well, since it has been a while, I thought I would start off with a few recipes that I have been making recently.  The first is adapted from America's Test Kitchen.  I just watched this episode about Strawberry Pie a few weeks ago and I jotted the recipe down while nursing.  I made it on June 10th for the first time for a co-worker of Jared's that is moving on to another job!! I also made a Chocolate Pecan Pie, which will be my next recipe.  Their recipe calls for things in ozs and lbs.  However, I do not own a scale and have never seen the need for one (and I am slightly afraid that if I start using one that I will never go back to using measuring cups and I don't have room for it in my kitchen).  So, I have put the rough estimates of what I used.  Also, I do not own a food processor, so I simply mashed up my strawberries with my potato masher.

This recipe is super easy and tastes INCREDIBLE!!  If I had more strawberries, I would make a bowl of this filling to eat with a spoon.  It is so delicious.  It definitely does taste better than the trusty old Jello recipe.  When ATK said that on the show, I thought, “Come on! The Jello recipe is classic! I don't think anything can beat it.” Well, I was wrong.  My favorite pie is now even more amazing thanks to ATK. 

First, bake a pie crust until light brown. I make my own when I have time, but a store bought crust would work as well.  The filling is what matters in this recipe.

    6 oz puree strawberries (or roughly 1 cup mashed)
    ¾ cup sugar
    1-1/2 tsp low or no sugar pectin (pink box)
    2 T cornstarch
    2 T lemon juice
    2 lb strawberries (8 - 12 cups)

1.                  Combine first 4 ingredients (in a sauce pan, I mashed my strawberries in the saucepan before placing it on the stove) and bring to a boil.
2.                  Boil 2 minutes. Mix in lemon juice.  Mix in strawberries. 
3.                  Pour into crust. Chill 2 hours.
4.                  (optional, but recommended) Scrape out the bowl and eat extra filling with a spoon.  :)

*** Note: ATK suggested not cutting your strawberries because it will release the juice and make the pie soupy.  I had already cut my strawberries and it didn't seem to affect the pie.  I will make it with uncut strawberries next time to see if it turns out differently.

**** Update: I add a bit more cornstarch and pectin, not a rounded teaspoon or tablespoon, but a bit more. When you cook the sauce on the stove it should reach a thickish, jelly like consistency. I have found it is better to be too thick than too thin. Some of the juice from the strawberries will loosen it up, but then it will also thicken a bit more in the frig. If you are using cold strawberries, it usually thickens once you mix them into the sauce and doesn't get much thicker. Anyhow, lean towards a thicker sauce. 
Also, I have been using a 1/2 cup of sugar because I like a more tart pie. 

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

A New Quilt

I was trying to clean out my sewing room and use up all the scraps that I had been holding on to for the past four years.  I started out by trimming everything to a 5" by 5" square and then I trimmed everything else to 3" pieces of various widths. I sewed all the 3" pieces (sorted by color) together and then trimmed them into rows. 

I just finished quilting and I am working on the binding now.  I was discussing with Cindy if the binding is my favorite part because it is the last step and it makes it look finished or because I find the hand stitching calming. It is probably a combination of the two. I decided to do a scrappy boarder to match the scrappy nature of the quilt.  It looks pretty awesome.  I will post a picture when I am finished.  

Blueberry Boy Bait

From America's Test Kitchen Cookbook 2008 Season based on a recipe that won second place in the 1954 Pillsbury Grand National Baking Contest.

This year I am in charge of snack for VBS.  After two years of co-directing VBS, it is a nice little break.  As a bonus, I love cooking and baking and running a kitchen.  I have great helpers this year, who are making my job very easy.  They have cheerfully been prepping everything that I need and cleaning before I even ask them. It has been a joy to serve with them.  Also, it has been amazing to see all of the wonderful donations and snacks that people have brought in.  God does more than we can ask or expect.  I have not had to spend any money from the VBS budget and have had extra donations left over for a breakfast tomorrow morning.  I was also able to buy more fresh fruit for the children!  Yay! God is so very good.

I made this recipe for Monday morning at VBS and several people asked for the recipe.  It is super easy.  All my blueberries sank to the bottom and made a layer of blueberry jam. I either didn't measure the flour perfectly or stirred the blueberries too much when I folded them in (or I may have added more than the recipe called for...). 

Cake Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 T baking powder
1 tsp salt
16 T (2 sticks) butter
¾ c. brown sugar
½ c. sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup milk (I used 2%, they called for whole)
1 tsp flour
½ c. blueberries (fresh or frozen, if frozen, do not thaw)

Topping Ingredients:
½ c. blueberries
¼ c. sugar
½ tsp. Cinnamon (I added another ¼ tsp. because I thought it needed more)

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease (and flour, if you are planning on removing it to a serving platter – I made it in a pretty pan so that I could leave it in the pan) a 13 x 9 pan.

2. Beat butter and sugar until fluffy (about 3 to 4 minutes).  I find that I have to scrap down the sides of my kitchen-aid several times. The consistancy of the butter should be no longer grainy.  I just learned how to cream my butter and sugar together.  I never beat it enough before. It looks completely different if you beat it for a longer period of time.

3. Whisk flour, baking powered, and salt in a small bowl.

4. Add the eggs and beat until smooth.

5. Add one third of the flour mixture. Stir until smooth.  Add half the milk stir until smooth.  Add half the remaining flour. Stir. Add the rest of the milk. Stir.  Add the remaining flour. Stir.

6. Mix blueberries with 1 teaspoon of flour. Fold in with spatula (I may have mixed mine too much, the blueberries all sank to the bottom).

7. Spread batter into pan.

8. Sprinkle remaining half cup of blueberries over the top of the batter.

9. Stir sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle over the blueberries & batter.

10. Bake until toothpick comes out clean (about 45 – 50 minutes – I baked mine for an extra 10 – 15 minutes).

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Cooking Brown Rice Revolutionized

The other day, I was reading Cook's Illustrated and I stumbled on a recipe for brown rice.  I thought, Now how exciting and new can a recipe for brown rice be? However, this recipe has changed the way I think about brown rice.  

What is the trick?  Boil the rice and drain it, just like pasta. That is it. It takes half the cooking time.

I thought that it sounded crazy, but I tried it and then I tasted the rice and it changed my mind.  The rice was perfectly cooked and or sticky.  The science behind it is that the rice is able to absorb water from all sides, which makes it cook in half the time and creates a more consistant consistancy throughout the rice.