Monday, November 30, 2009

the Jesse tree

A college friend of mine just published in her missionary update that they have passed out all the kits for the Jesse tree to the families who come to their outreach center. Curious, I pressed her for more information and here's the basics:

Using the premise of the advent calendar, the Jesse tree promotes ways for parents to teach their children how Christmas is a fulfillment of Messianic prophecies, starting with December 1. Each night there is a Scripture passage and the family can make or color an ornament that goes with the story. There are paper patterns in a .pdf format that parents can print out, but my favorite picture is below, where the family actually made the ornaments.And here's a sample of the Jesse tree done with paper and paper ornaments:

AND, there's also a book, published in 2005 that details the whole concept in a story form:
If I had children, I think this would be an awesome way to teach the fulfilled Messianic prophecies of Christmas. Here is a link to the devotion schedule for the Jesse Tree, as well as a more detailed explanation: http://www.jesse-tree.com/jesse_tree.html If you choose to do this with your family, let me know if you post pictures and I'll mention you on my blog!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

the kitchen table

When I first moved to NC, I had a trunk from college, two end tables I bought a yard sale, a bookcase and the bedroom set I had as a child (which my parents graciously gave me). A friend of Bobby's gave me a couch and I scrounged money for several months to pay for a slipcover to go over it. Bobby's brother had gotten married the year before, and in consolidating households moved a lot of furniture into storage. They gave me the kitchen table and chairs they weren't using, and I've gratefully and thankfully used them for the last 11 years.

Bobby's nephew got married almost two years ago. I don't know why neither of us ever thought about it before, but for some reason last month it finally crossed our mind that they might want the kitchen table that Sammy's parents had while he was growing up. So we asked them, thinking they'd say no, they already had furniture, and we're surprised when they immediately said "YES! We've just bought a house and that would be great!"

So the last month I've spent a good chunk of time (as has Bobby) looking at CraigsList, looking at photo galleries on the web, and discussing what we would like/need in a kitchen table. We checked into having someone make us a kitchen table from the wood of the tobacco barn we tore down a few years ago, but that fell through. Meanwhile, several tables we really liked sold on CraigsList, and one we liked but were uncertain about kept reducing its price. Last Monday I went to measure and make sure Bobby could fit his chair under it and that the chairs were comfortable, and brought it back to Mrs. Bryan's barn. The boys came Thanksgiving afternoon and loaded up our faithful and comfortable table and chairs to take to Sammy & Jess's new house, and unloaded our "new" set for us.
I absolutely LOVE the detailed carving on the skirting of the table.
And the carving of the chairs match, and I think they are absolutely gorgeous. Even though everything is oak, the stain is dark enough that I think it matches the cherry cabinets in our kitchen. AND...included in the detailed carved on the top of the chairs is acorns and oak leaves...how cool is that?
And here's what the complete table looks like. The leaf doesn't match the inward angle of the grain in the table, but it does complement nicely. (Bobby can't fit under pedestal tables without a leaf in them.) I'm just thrilled that we not only found something that works AND we both really like, but we also got a great deal out of it!

And here's the biggest kicker: while I'm talking to the owner, she was sharing with me that her parents gave it to her almost ten years ago as a wedding present, and that her Mom bought it at an estate sale with the understanding it would make do until she could afford what she wanted. Her husband is finishing seminary and they are getting their own house, so they're finally getting to purchase their own furniture, too. In the process of this conversation, she said something about her family being from SC. I asked her what part, telling her about my older sister living there, and in that conversation found out we both have friends and family in Alabama. I told her I was from Cordova, thinking she would have never heard of it (as most non-Alabamians and even some Alabamians haven't), and she immediately not only named a couple from Cordova, but IT WAS SOMEONE I WENT TO HIGH SCHOOL WITH!!!! Misty graduated with my little sister; we were in band together, and when her family had to move up to Southeastern for her husband to attend seminary (they lost their apartment and school during Hurricane Katrina), I was able to visit the hospital when their new child was born. This lady had lived next door to the Alexanders while their husbands were in seminary, and her husband and Ritchie still talk on the phone almost weekly! How bizarre and yet how neat that I would drive almost an hour away for a gorgeous, non-expensive dining set, only to find out the owner and I both know the same people?!? Is that not crazy?

So who knows? Maybe by the time I hit my 50's I'll have finally replaced all our donated furniture with furniture that we've actually picked out ourselves. We're 99% there in the living room, and now totally there in the kitchen! WHOHHOOO!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

psalm 4, the latter verses

Many are saying, "Who will show us any good?"
Lift up the light of Your countenance upon us, O LORD!
You have put gladness in my heart,
More than when their grain and new wine abound.
In peace I will both lie down and sleep,
For You alone, O LORD, make me to dwell in safety.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

super fun

I am SO looking forward to this holiday weekend! I mean, what could be better than having your husband off of work for several days in a row, family get togethers involving lots of FOOD, craft fairs and special shopping sales over the weekend, not to mention numerous fun activities (can't you hear that rumble from Alabama about the upcoming Iron Bowl?)?

Yep, that's right. Come Saturday afternoon I'll be in front of the tv screaming like a maniac at a bunch of men in ill-fitting clothes chasing a stupid little pigskin up and down a boxed in field. And after the game is over, regardless of who wins, I'll call my Aunt Linda who pulls for the Auburn Tigers instead of the Alabama Crimson Tide, and regardless of who wins, she'll answer "WAR EAGLE!" (that's Auburn's slogan). And amidst yelling at the tv and quilting, I'll attempt to put up Christmas decorations.

What's not to love about this holiday?

Monday, November 23, 2009

the urge

Growing up, I rearranged furniture on a regular basis. I think it sometimes drove my Mom crazy. I know it certainly did one particular college roommate. But since I've been married, most of our furniture has stayed put. It's not that I haven't thought about moving things around, but our open floor plan and Bobby's mobility needs seriously limit the moving of furniture.

Yet for some reason I've been in nesting mode and shuffling things in my mind lately. Today I actually started moving things...nothing major mind you. But an outdoor porch table finally went outside, my piano shifted down the wall a bit, plants are scattered in the floor awaiting the removal of a few more items. I'm not totally thrilled with the current layout, but I have until Wednesday to get everything sorted. After Thanksgiving the Christmas decorating starts, and I would love to have everything finalized by then.

So who knows? I may actually have some pictures to post in a few days. Or not.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

only half as crazy

Several years ago I bought a pumpkin for fall decoration. Bobby wasn't so certain why I was doing it since we seldom have trick-or-treaters, rarely have people over, and we don't have children, but agreed, jokingly asking if I was going to make a pumpkin pie.

As I started to carve, I thought, "Why not? Why should food go to waste?" And so I trimmed out the pumpkin's insides before I carved up his face. Then I pulled out cookbooks and started cooking. And I cooked. And baked. And went to the grocery store for more pie shells and eggs, and I baked and cooked some more. And I STILL had pumpkin leftover. We ended up with 13 pumpkin pies in the freezer, and I'm not even that crazy over pumpkin pie. My secret to getting it down was cool whip...LOTS and LOTS of cool whip. I think cool whip can make almost anything taste better.

We bought a pumpkin again this year, though I didn't carve it. But I did scoop out about 3/4 of its insides last night and cook them. This morning I began the pie process, and used up all our eggs (but I still have 2 shells left!). The last 3 (of 6) pies are cooking. The remainder of the pumpkin is in the chicken pen where they are scratching at its flesh and devouring seeds as if they were me eating peanut M&Ms. Now I just have to clean up the kitchen, and hope the chickens lay more eggs between now and Monday. I'm happy with the compromise. We can have our decorations and eat them, too!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

things we forget

It's funny how we can spend hours (okay, maybe it's more like minutes) of our childhood doing or playing something, but then totally forget about it as an adult.

I had another one of those "oh yeah!" moments today. Sunday we had about 1/3 of Bobby's family over for lunch, meaning all three leaves went into the dining room table. I decided to leave them in, and left the chairs around the table as well (I often put them against the wall when the table is being used as a cutting table). Of course, Bobby's spot is left open.

Today I had some visitors, who were quite excited to find the dining room had grown a "tunnel". I was quite puzzled, into I walked in and saw what they meant:
I had totally forgotten that as a child we used Mom's dining room table for all sorts of wonderful adventures until she'd make us get out. We could be spies in a submarine, Barbies in a van, or fish beneath the pier with a fisherman outside the chairs, and when Mom had a tablecloth on, stretching out on the chairs shoved up under the table was a GREAT place to hide.

So where along the line did I lose my imagination and these four-legged monstrous piece of wood simply become a table?

Monday, November 16, 2009

winning the war!

I've learned all kinds of new stuff the last few years...one of them being that pecan trees produce a bumper crop one year and a piddly one the next. Even with all the battles last year between me and the dogs for every single nut, we picked about a bucket and a half of pecans. This year I'll be pleased if we have half of a bucket. I was hoping that my fertilizing and the additional rain we've had this year would prove the old every other year adage wrong, but it didn't. Nevertheless, with exception of 10 nuts (that I know of) I've beaten the dogs to the stash.

I guess I can't say I've beaten them, as it's partly due to the chickens. (You didn't know we had fighting chickens? That's good, 'cause we don't.) Due to a certain someone's insistence that our chickens have freedom to roam the yard, the dogs get locked up every day from lunchtime 'till dusk so the chickens can roam safely. During last week's deluge the chickens had to stay in their shelter, and I found about 3 partially eaten pecans on the front ramp and another 3 or 4 in the garage. After feeding the geese I stopped to pick some up (yes, in the rain) and the dogs about went crazy. I could tell which trees had dropped their fruits simply by watching the dogs. If they thought I was heading toward their tree, they would take off to another one and I'd hear the crack of a shell and see their head tilted in a funny way.

I had a relative e-mail me that dogs were not supposed to eat fruit or nuts, that it would kill them. If that is true, my dogs may not live to see 5, for they will eat almost anything they see me pick. Now if I can only figure out how to keep the chickens out of next year's tomato garden...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

monthly cooking

I've always heard about people who cook once a month, freeze everything, and then for the remainder of the month only have to heat/thaw things for meals. I've often been tempted to try it, thinking it might simplify our lives dramatically.

This past week Food Lion had several meat items on sale, as well as several markdown items, so I bought several different things for future events. When I got home from the store that night, I set the three bags of meat on top of the washing machine while I removed all the laundry from the top of the freezer (it has a dual purpose as my folding table). Somewhere between putting away laundry and life, I totally FORGOT about the 3 bags of meat on my freezer. Imagine my surprise (exclamation of horror is actually more like it) when I entered the laundry room yesterday morning to iron a pair of pants. While my husband came quickly to find out what was wrong, my heart had almost stopped.

Thankfully the meat, since it was all together, was a tad cooler than room temperature. I know you can't freeze raw meat once it's been uncooled or thawed, but you CAN freeze cooked meat. I pulled out every pan I owned, as well as both crock pots, and started washing and throwing things into pans and dishes. I turned the stove onto low as I left for the baby shower so everything would roast while I was gone. It was quite the mixture of smells when I returned. There's nothing like walking into a kitchen and smelling a meal cooking, but I don't think I quite enjoyed the smell of several different kinds of meat cooking all at once! I spent a good two hours cutting, pulling meat off the bone, and washing dishes. Bobby thoroughly enjoyed his job of taste tester, though!

I have always wanted to try once a month cooking....just not like this! I tell myself that one day I'll be organized and efficient. Perhaps that will be my ultimate sanctification - organization!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

of all men most miserable

Today while reading our church's daily Bible reading, a passage struck me as odd. I've read it numerous times before, and I understand Paul's point, but it took me a little off-guard.
"...and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; ...if we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied."
For those of you not at CBC, this is from I Corinthians 15.

The end of my freshman year of college, I had a crisis of faith. Something happened in my life that totally rattled me to the core, and it made me re-evaluate everything I had ever been taught or believed. I came to the conclusion that night that as foolish as it might seem, as scary as the unknown was to me, I could honestly say that even if I died and found everything I believed to be a lie, that my life and this world would be a better place because of the Christian principles I adhered to. So I found the Apostle Paul's comment that if the Resurrection is untrue then our lives are worthless and to be pitied a bit shocking. I understand what he is saying and his context. Why would he or other believers put their lives at risk for something that is a lie? That would be most sad indeed. Yet in our free and prosperous country where we are never really persecuted for our faith (I'm not saying discrimination doesn't exist, but that can hardly be called persecution.), how can we be pitied for holding to our faith? Maybe I will die having never tasted alcohol or drugs, having never slept with anyone but my husband, nor had the pleasure of a 2 day weekend as church always consumes a day. But none of those things should make anyone pity me. I suppose there are people who might find the lack of my "freedom" appalling, but I find that the freedom I have in Christ make those minor things to be shackles of bondage and not freedom.

It also makes me appreciate our country all the more. We Christians are so spoiled here (not that I'm complaining...I'm glad!). To be able to live out my faith every day without fear of repercussion is such a glorious opportunity and freedom and one that keeps my life from being a "pitiful" experience.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day

So many fled to our northern neighbor.
Others hid in college, having not planned to go before.
You answered the call to serve, like so many before you.
You were wounded.
And still a teenager.

Thanks Uncle Dave, and your boys, and so many others who fought the fear and did your duty.
Happy Veterans Day seems like a strange thing to say.
There's nothing happy about nightmares.
There's nothing pleasant about being startled and having a flashback.
There's nothing glorious listening to liberals rant about war and its uselessness.
There's not much reward for your service.
You truly understand that freedom isn't free.

Monday, November 9, 2009

one month to live

This morning during the next to last lap of our weekly "get Bobby out the door on time" routine (otherwise known as fixing breakfast), Bobby asked me if I had one month left to live, what would I do? I think I momentarily stopped with the refrigerator door open and just stared at him. Then somewhat laughingly, I told him I would make a list of all my favorite foods and snacks and then make out a schedule accordingly. Priorities, baby.
He then proceeded to tell me about some church in the paper where the pastor is challenging the church to live the next month as if it is their last month on earth to live. Somehow I don't think my food idea is quite what he had in mind. Nor would be visiting those big trees in northern California, spending at least 2 weeks in Alabama, sitting on the beach for a WHOLE DAY, or finishing Andy and Amie's quilt. I might struggle (although very briefly) between cleaning my house top to bottom or hiring someone to come in and do it. I don't want to leave my mess for someone else to clean up and they forever rant about how messy my house is, because I fear the last thing they see might be what they forever remember. That would not be cool at all.
So if you had 31 days left to live (and yeah, I'd choose a longer month and not February!), what would you do?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

and the list grows...

This is a tad bit scary, but at this rate my project list for 2010 will be full by the time the new year arrives. What is exciting is the cool projects I'm lining up for myself. We went to an estate sale this morning, where we purchased the rocking chair below. Dare I brag and say it was only $10?
The frame is in good shape; it just needs a good polishing and some new slipcovers. So on my list for 2010 is slipcovers! I already know what material I want to use (I think) and where it is. I'm so excited!!!! Now I just need to finish cleaning up the kitchen so I can head outside and work on some 2009 projects before my projected time line has expired. Onward ho!

Friday, November 6, 2009

things to be excited about

  1. TODAY IS FRIDAY!!!!!
  2. The Wake County Public Libraries' Book Sale is Nov 14 -22. Now I just need to decide is it worth volunteering 4+ hours to get the discounted Sat prices early.
  3. I'm going shopping today.
  4. Today my aerobics class is meeting for the first time ever on Friday.
  5. I'm halfway through working at Mid-Way.
  6. One more hoop and the center of Andy & Amie's quilt is finished.
  7. Christmas is a coming.
  8. I think I'm attempting a gingerbread house of sorts this year...my first ever!
  9. The sun is shining.
  10. God gives us what we need, right when we need it.

Monday, November 2, 2009

today

the scarecrow is blown over and the pumpkin's in the ditch and
i haven't got the mail or on the quilt sewed a single stitch.
the chickens were not let out and the dogs are being bad.
they chewed right through the hosepipe, which was new and now I'm mad.
i haven't fed the geese yet and there's laundry yet to do;
within 30 minutes hubby's home and wanting food.
i've gained another pound instead of losing at the gym,
i'm hungry for the foods that will never make me thin.
today's a gift that i've been given
but i haven't been too kind...
i haven't thanked the Giver
just unwrapped my gift and sighed.