Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Sewing is like boating

You say to yourself, "what a beautiful day, I should spend the day boating (or sewing). My machine was working perfectly last time I used it. What could go wrong?"

Half an hour later, after you have troubleshooted everything twice and reloaded your machine multiple times, it finally started working and you have no idea why...or what was wrong... Or how to solve it if it happens again. 

While I had my machine apart I decided to remove all the lint and oil it. And then since I had the oil and other tools out, I took apart and oiled my quilting machine. I hope both machines are happy now.  

It was probably all the sewing I did this weekend that did them in. 
 The snowy weather was perfect to finish two quilts, four table runners, four burp clothes, two bibs, and four diaper covers.  I am currently finishing some blocks for a quilt I started four years ago. Once that is finished, I will have nothing sitting around half finished!! What a great feeling. A clean slate. The sky is the limit. What should I make next?!?

Update: I found one other quilt I was in the middle of. So, I have two quilts worth of blocks to finish and quilt. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Day 13

We are going on day thirteen of illness around here. That is just the baby. He finally seems to be back to his normal self, but still has a running nose. Martin is running about five days behind him. Maybe he will get better faster. I am really missing Sunday services. Sitting at home with sick children is not the same.  Unfortunately, I have nursery next Sunday morning.  So, I am eagerly awaiting Sunday evening service.

Do you like the empty salt container in my aloe plant? The baby pulled it out of the trash can and carried it around the house yesterday. I suspect that Martin was behind putting it in the plant. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

God wants to give you a real an eternal happiness!

I am currently reading God in the Dock for my reading list this year (side note: for the longest time I thought the title was God on the Dock... I kept wondering what the story was going to be that had God sitting on a dock staring out at the water... Anyhow, several months ago I realized my mistake, but I still look at the book title and laugh. My engineering brain amusingly mixes words up all the time). This gem was hidden in a question and answer session with C.S. Lewis. I have always found his answers on suffering and difficulties to be helpful. I highly recommend his book, The Problem of Pain for more on the subject.

Q: Many people feel resentful or unhappy because they think they are the target of unjust fate. These feelings are stimulated by bereavement, illness, deranged domestic or working conditions, or the observation of suffering in others. What is the Christian view of this problem?

Lewis: The Christian view is that men were created to be in a certain relationship to God (if we are in that relation to Him, the right relation to one another will follow inevitably). Christ said it was difficult for "the rich" to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, referring, no doubt, to "riches" in the ordinary sense. But I think it really covers riches at every sense – good fortune, health, popularity, and all the things one wants to have. All these things tend – just as money tends – to make you feel independent of God, because if you have them you are happy already and contented in this life. You don't want to turn away to anything more and so you try to rest in a shadowy happiness as if it could last for ever. But God wants to give you a real an eternal happiness.

Consequently, He may have to take all these “riches” away from you: if He doesn't, you will go on relying on them. It sounds cruel, doesn’t it? But I am beginning to find out that what people call cruel doctrines are really the kindest ones in the long run. I used to think it was a “cruel” doctrine to say that troubles and sorrows were “punishments”. But I find in practice that when you are in trouble, the moment you regard it as a “punishment”, it becomes easier to bear. If you think of this world as a place intended simply for our happiness you find it quite intolerable: think of it as a place of training and correction and it's not so bad.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Poor snowman.

His head melted and his arms drooped in the rain yesterday. I've been laughing at him all afternoon out my kitchen window. 

Friday, January 22, 2016

I need more space...

...Not for the boys to run around in, but to spead my quilts out in. 
Ha ha ha. 
I made this quilt top when I was 16. Someone gave me a bunch of old fabric scraps for Christmas one year. It has been sitting on my sewing table since I married Jared. I keep meaning to finish it.  

For a while now I have wanted a picnic blanket to keep in the car (for beach trips or to throw over picnic tables or to watch fireworks). I have been trying to figure out a good design. But then I realized I already had the perfect quilt top finished! It is going to be quilted tomorrow. :) 

I already love it. 

Thursday, January 21, 2016


It makes even the sick baby happy. 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Planning & Simple Shredded Chicken

This is not an exciting picture. It is really ugly. 
However, it is a great example of a tip I thought I'd share today. 

There are some days I don't feel like cooking dinner. Nights that we have meetings planned or days that we have been running around all day. On those days I want to throw in the towel and go get Chipotle. But I know that ruins my budget and isn't all that healthy. So, I try to avoid it. Here are a few tips I have learned over the years. 

1. Prep meat in batches. See the ugly picture above. This morning I took a giant pack of chicken and cooked 2/3rds of it, shredded it, and put it in containers with the amount for each recipe. The bottom container has raw chicken (the last 1/3 of the pack) that I trimmed and cut into manageable chunks to speed along cooking times. It really didn't take me any more time than prepping just part of the meat. I already had the pans, scissors, and cutting boards out. I am saving myself two washings in the process. 

2. Meal plan. I used to think meal planning was silly. I didn't do it. But then I would panic each night when faced with cooking dinner. All of the sudden I would lose all inspiration. Now I meal plan, but I don't plan a meal for ever night. I usually leave in a night or two to eat leftovers or once in a while a night at a restaurant. 

3. I have a few quick go to meals in case everything fails. 
Pancakes and eggs
Tomato soup and grilled cheese 
And if all else fails yogurt and granola. :)

4. I invested in a cookbook filled with meals in under 45 minutes. Best idea ever. In case you want to buy it, it was on sale at Americas Test Kitchen's store. It is called the Quick Family Cookbook. 

There are a few tips I use to avoid eating out and food waste. I am slowly learning the longer I cook. And here is my new favorite way to cook chicken for casseroles or chicken salad, etc. :

Simple shredded chicken
(Makes 3 cups)
1T oil
1 lb. chicken breast

Heat oil in pan. Salt and pepper chicken. Place in pan. Brown first side.  (This gives the chicken a much better flavor). 
Flip chicken. Add 1/2c. Water. Cover an dinner until chicken reaches 160 degrees. 
Let cool. Shred into pieces. 

Saturday, January 16, 2016


We've been doing a lot of this. The baby spends his nights waking up and barking like a seal. We've spend a lot of our nights sitting in the bathroom with the shower running to give him some moist air to breath. Martin has been extra tired. He's taken two naps. He fights colds off pretty well. I am thankful that he usually just exhibits mild symptoms. 

I started reading Seabiscuit to them Friday. Today Jared read Winnie the Pooh to Martin. I am glad my kids love books. 

We were able to enjoy this beautiful January day and take a walk around the campus where I teach. It was lovely. It was especially great to have Jared with us. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Reading Challenge

I keep meaning to post that I am doing this book reading challenge this year:

I will post more about it on the books page of my blog. 

Monday Get Ahead Day

Coffee cake for Bible study. 
Do you know what is great about this coffee cake recipe? The pecans are only put on the top. This means they are toasted on the top and don't get all mushy and soggy on the inside of the cake. Brilliant. 

Also in the kitchen today:
Cheeseball for Bible study
Chex Mix for Hope
Cheesy Grits for dinner (recipe on recipe page - if you still haven't tried it, you should go any do that). 
French toast for dinner 

What do I have planned for meals this week? These are what I have planned, but things always get all switched around and bumped to next week. 
Breakfast for dinner (cheesy grits, French toast, and eggs)
Chicken hibachi, veggies, and rice 
Chick away (yes, I meant to spell it that way, it is name Martin calls it. We will use our calendar cards for free nuggets!!)
Christmas Chili and rice (recipe coming soon) and salad
Calzones and salad
Maple orange chicken, green beans, probably fried rice (to use up the leftovers from the week) 
German chocolate cake (for Sunday evening dinner, probably with coconut milk)

The Children's Hour

In high school I had to memorize this for English class. I memorized a lot of things as a child. I should spend more time on memorization. There is something special about carrying a passage or song or verse in your brain and having it always with you. I need to do more. 

I play with the baby for an hour or so after Martin goes to bed. He Explores the   house and plays with everything he doesn't get to during the day. It is one of my favorite times of day. For some reason I started thinking of this poem last night while we played (between the dark and daylight...). I love the whole thing, but especially the last line:
And there I will keep you forever. 
Yes, forever and a day. 
Til the walls should crumble to ruin. 
And moulder to dust away. 

It is impossible to keep my children from growing older. I can't keep them for forever. Sometime I feel like I want to. But then I have to remind myself that I am just a steward of my children (like so many things in my life - house, money, car, talents, health, etc.). God has given them to me to use for His glory. It makes me think differently about parenting when I remember this. I want my children to realize that this life is short and to make it count. I want them to realize life isn't about them and their things. I want them to spent their time on what matters. I want them to serve others. 

I am still learning. God keeps teaching me things. I am so thankful He doesn't give up on us. I am learning to look to the gift giver and not the gift for satisfaction. It is hard sometimes not to worship the gift. 

I didn't mean to say all of that. It doesn't really apply to the poem. :) I was in a rambling mood this morning.  

The Children's Hour

Between the dark and the daylight, 
      When the night is beginning to lower, 
Comes a pause in the day's occupations, 
      That is known as the Children's Hour. 

I hear in the chamber above me 
      The patter of little feet, 
The sound of a door that is opened, 
      And voices soft and sweet. 

From my study I see in the lamplight, 
      Descending the broad hall stair, 
Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra, 
      And Edith with golden hair. 

A whisper, and then a silence: 
      Yet I know by their merry eyes 
They are plotting and planning together 
      To take me by surprise. 

A sudden rush from the stairway, 
      A sudden raid from the hall! 
By three doors left unguarded 
      They enter my castle wall! 

They climb up into my turret 
      O'er the arms and back of my chair; 
If I try to escape, they surround me; 
      They seem to be everywhere. 

They almost devour me with kisses, 
      Their arms about me entwine, 
Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen 
      In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine! 

Do you think, O blue-eyed banditti, 
      Because you have scaled the wall, 
Such an old mustache as I am 
      Is not a match for you all! 

I have you fast in my fortress, 
      And will not let you depart, 
But put you down into the dungeon 
      In the round-tower of my heart. 

And there will I keep you forever, 
      Yes, forever and a day, 
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin, 
      And moulder in dust away! 

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Want to know if a recipe is great?

Look at the page for notes and splatters. This sweet potato pie is AMAZING!!

Friday, January 08, 2016

Wise Living

Ephesians 5:15-17
"Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise, but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is."

I think a lot about this. If you were to go back to old blog posts from when I was in college, you would probably see that I was wrestling with the same thing back then. What is the will of God for my life? What does He want me to be doing? The phrase, "making the best use of time..." sticks out to me. What is the best use of my time? 

I know that being a Godly wife and mother is a wise use of my time. But what about all those free moments that I have? Do I spend time reading books or watching movies? Do I browse websites? Do I do craft projects? Are those to the glory of God or does it mean something more? I know there is a balance, but I am still struggling with what that balance is. How do I honor God with my free time? Should it be free time or should I fill it with some worthwhile cause?

Every year I struggle with the question (because the Chemistry department asks), should I teach more college classes? In all honestly, I love teaching. It makes ME feel important. But is that what life is about? Is it about me feeling important? Each year I come back to asking, "is the best use of my time?" And each year, so far, I have decided that I can use my time more wisely for His kingdom in another way. I feel like all the grading and class prep (as much fun as it would be) would take away time that I could use for other things (ESL prep, Bible study prep, making meals for people, etc.). It would also be too ME centered. I would become to absorbed in Faith the college professor and fail to be Faith the imitator of Christ (Eph 5:1). 

I don't really know the point of this post... I will probably explore this topic some more in the coming months. I have been thinking a lot about it recently. What does wise living look like? I know I am not doing enough of it. 

Tuesday, January 05, 2016


We have a bunch of Jared's old history textbooks sitting upstairs. I should have tried to sell them years ago. I finally listed about 20 of them two months ago for a potential earnings of $200. History books are cheap. I am used to $150 engineering textbooks. Those add up more quickly. 

I have sold five so far. :) Turning five useless books into $50 makes me happy. Jared says I am wasting my time and should just donate them. I'll give them a year and donate whatever doesn't sell. 

I enjoy visiting the post office to mail them. The postman is very jolly. The boys just stare at him. When do children learn it is rude to stare? If it were warmer I would walk over to the post office, which would be even more satisfying. 

Friday, January 01, 2016

Happy 2016!

Happy New Year!

The boys are still playing more with the boxes and ribbons instead of all their new toys. Children don't need much. I am glad they are easily amused and enjoy each other's company. 

We are thankful for another year. We were able to see a lot of our families, we spent time with friends, We were able to serve at church, we ate good food, and went on a few fun day trips.  I keep typing things like, "it was a good year" or "God was so good to us". But I know that it would be a "good" year and God would still be good even if things didn't go the way I planned or wanted. I am thankful for small opportunities to depend on God more each year. I am thankful that I can always depend on Him and that he is faithful even in the small things. 

I wonder what 2016 will hold for us? I have always liked odd year years better, for no other reason then that they are odd numbers. I have liked odds numbers since I was a small child. There is something more interesting about them.