Tuesday, May 31, 2011


I've only had British tea biscuits once. They're like our shortbread cookies only excessively flat. And I don't think I've ever seen them for sale in the US. Anyhoo, the day after Prince William's wedding, the local paper ran an article about the cake he requested for the wedding. It's called a biscuit cake, and they provided the recipe.
I actually tried it yesterday. Kind of. We don't have British tea biscuits here, and the only dark chocolate I had on hand (which I thought was dark chocolate so didn't buy any at the store) was actually Baker's unsweetened chocolate. So combined my chocolate with some semi-sweet morsels. After all, dark chocolate simply tastes like barely sweetened cocoa. So needless to say, my version wasn't exactly what the recipe called for. Nevertheless, it's okay. Perhaps if I had the proper ingredients it might taste a whole lot better, but I seriously doubt I'll try it again. After watching this video, (which uses a different pan and the parchment in a much easier way), I decided to post it instead of the News & Observer's article. http://blogmyway.org/videos/2011/05/03/royal-chocolate-biscuit-cake/

But I branched out and tried out, despite its outcome. Kudos for that! :)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

day 2

Day two was HOT! We started at 5pm, were thankful when Tim (Bobby's brother, Sammy's dad) showed up to help. Things started moving a little faster then. He could hold the boards in place a little better and I pulled boards to the sawhorse to have them ready for nailing/cutting while they put finished doors in place. All said, we "finished" (as in 96% done and the chickens can use the house) about 9:20pm. My legs are coated in 'skeeter bites (that's mosquito bites, for non-Walker County,  AL people), and I'm trying REALLY hard not to scratch but not having a whole lot of luck!

Other than the fact the chickens slept on top of the nesting boxes instead of on top of their roosting posts, I think they're going to be quite happy in their house. If not, they can just get over it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

step one

When we got home Saturday evening, we were pleasantly surprised with all the progress made during the day.

Nesting Boxes BEFORE:

Nesting Boxes AFTER:
Roosting Post BEFORE:

Roosting Post AFTER:

And a side view:

Since there wasn't time to finish, we simply placed a board over the gateway from the house to the pen. The chickens were most unhappy about this development, pecking at the board, piling up four high trying to get inside. But this is how it remained until day 2 of work began.

Monday, May 23, 2011

upgrades are coming!

 the chicken pen & house

 Bobby talking with our neighbor, Todd

 Bobby's nephew Sammy nailing boards.

And Sammy measuring boards.

Not that exciting, you say?  Perhaps not. But it will be. Starting tomorrow, you will be surprised. :)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

reality 101

This past weekend I overheard a conversation where a daughter was very upset with her sister. It was a typical childhood situation where they're looking into the future, but the parent's response almost made me gasp. She gave her daughter a hug, reminded her that she needed to pray for her sister, that as God continued to sanctify and change her sister into being more like Him then the problem might rectify itself.

I don't think I even knew the word sanctify or sanctification at that age. I'm even more impressed that the mother recognized the heart of the matter. Addressing an argument about what might/might not happen in the future was truly futile. Helping a sister recognize 1) the need to pray for others 2) not everyone has the same strengths and personality traits and 3) only God can change a person is absolutely wonderful.

And while neither Mom nor daughter were aware, that conversation ministered to me.
So many times when I look in my spiritual mirror, I don't like what I see. (That's not a whole lot different than looking in my physical mirror, to be honest.) Sometimes it seems we focus so much on becoming more Christlike and "changing" that it's discouraging. I feel as if I'm in a never-ending cycle of failure.

It was so refreshing to hear a scenario play out where people looked at the possibilities and the improvements and the not short-comings and failures. It was a reminder that I'm to do my part but then not stress out over anything else. In short, I need to quit trying to do God's job. There's freedom in that. I can quit worrying about the journey and instead focus on today's portion of the trip. And if you've ever traveled with me, you know that means LOTS of stops at rest areas. :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

hump day

During after-school band practices, our band director would always call us up to his tower for a "word" before we called it a day at 5pm.  On Wednesdays, he would always say, "Weeellll, we've now made it past hump day."
Sometimes the arrival of noon on Wednesday scares me. The week's half-way point has arrived and my idea of what is to be done is still mountainous. Other times it comes and inwardly I mentally pump my fist and shout for I'm really getting stuff done.
Today though feels a bit different. I'm at the end of a tunnel. :)
Two months ago today I was very frustrated and a tad overwhelmed. I thought if I could just make it to this week then things would be peaceful and I could drop dead in exhaustion. But then I went and fell. Not once, but twice.  As if having a swollen kneecap and football-size/shape bruise on my abdomen wasn't enough, I had to add an egg-sized, bruised knot on the other knee, mis-align my pelvic bones, and fracture my elbow. I just THOUGHT my life was hectic. Sewing, cleaning, gardening, raising biddies...everything came to a screeching halt. We switched into coping mechanism and made it with the help of family and friends.
And now? Everything (bone-wise) is back in place. My elbow joint is "frozen" (it can bend but doesn't want to) but we're slowly making progress with exercise and therapy on that starts tomorrow. The sewing? Friends pitched in to help and we bought quite a few costumes. The quilting? Ummmm, we're making great progress. Our deadline is Sunday, June 5th. Ask me more about that later. Gardening? We've scaled back.
My house is now a wreck; the ironing pile overflows. (But that would most likely have happened even without the injury.) Weddings? All done. Travel? Sadly finished as well, though it's good to be home. And during the midst of it all, my Mom had surgery and my hometown was ravished by a tornado. And me? I was stuck here, unable to go or help anyone. Reality is, being away and not being able to do anything but pray was probably the best thing, the thing they needed the most.
I'm now back to just life: grieving with a friend who lost her Dad, praying for a friend whose Dad is dying, checking on my Mom whose health is a daily struggle, sorting through things in my mind, attempting to sift through truth and fiction, running errands for people, and wishing the process of sanctification wasn't quite so difficult or everlasting (from earth's perspective).
I can't tell you that through the humility of not being able to comb or fix my own hair, drive, write my own name, eat right-handed, or sometimes even get dressed without help that I grew in grace and wisdom. I was extremely frustrated and aggravated. But even in the midst of a trial where I semi-failed, I can sigh with relief that it's over and truly exhale. God's mercies are NEW EVERY MORNING! And because of that, I can focus on today, and not yesterday. Hump day, indeed! ;)

Monday, May 16, 2011


Scottymania has hit Garner. Big time.

Our town has a population of about 24 or 25,000.  We had 30,000 here for the Scotty parade on Saturday. That doesn't include the 500 waiting at the radio station at 8am, nor the lines at AT&T or Lowe's Foods where he worked. I think it's sweet that stores are putting "Go, Scotty, Go!" on their billboards or "We love you, Scotty!" It's nice that our town is behind their own.  When I saw the sign at Timber Drive Elementary, where he attended school as a child, that was neat. And then you see the sign at the YMCA, Heather Hills Clubhouse, the red and white painted sign with some crazy message about country music on the side of the road propped up against the trailer park mailboxes, and it becomes a little bit funny.

But then you go somewhere. Doesn't matter where. Church, Target, the gas station, a restaurant, the gym, the Garner Republicans meeting, and EVERYBODY is talking about Scotty...how proud they are, how awful Gaga is/was, how he's such a level-headed kid, how awesome it was to hear a young person talk about God, to share his faith, reminding people to vote!  You'd think it was election year, but without the mud-slinging.

And I'll watch with a little trepidation what I can on Wednesday night. I want to see how they portray my hometown. I know they made him re-do his entrance at Garner Senior High, and they DID allow him to go to his prom after all, and he posed with his half-empty jug of Bojangle's Sweet Tea near the airport, but will they show that? Will they show the tract his church passed out with his testimony? Will they hear him quoting Bible verses from his devotions or talking about his youth pastor? Will they air his meeting with Josh Turner and his comments that one of the things he admires the most about JT is his faith?  Somehow I fear those things will not be shown in Hollywood. But 30,000 people heard it. Everyone who watched WRAL heard it.

And I'll join the throngs in voting in 2 nights. No, I won't stay up late and vote a gazillion times. But I am proud of our 17 year old local kid for being a David in a Goliath world. And if for no other reason, even my mother-in-law who is (16 by her count, but that breaks down into at least 3.5 scores plus if you use the old English way of counting) quite adept at texting is voting. And she'll ask, like everyone at the gym, did you vote?

Friday, May 13, 2011


Well, yesterday's post was deleted by Blogger's technical difficulties. so here's the long and short of it:
Ezekiel 16:12 - it's okay to pierce your nose.
And no, I'm not doing it, although I think the minute studs and minuscule rings are really cool.

And on to today: I was very thankful to overhear people talking in the doctor's office about their displeasure of having Lady Gaga perform on American Idol. Like them, I was pleased at how Scotty performed, that he took what advice she had that was worth something and used it, and that he recognized her as the Proverbs 1 woman that men should avoid. After scanning the internet I realized just how much a minority I was in and how depraved our country truly is. And the more I think on her performance, the more I've come to this conclusion: it doesn't matter how well you sing or how many your records you make, if you dress, talk, and act like a prostitute, you are one. I don't understand why so many mothers think it's okay for their girls to watch and desire to be like the "stars" today. Jennifer Lopez may be a sweet judge on American Idol and have a beautiful physique, but her video and performances are/were overtly sexual, as were Taylor's and some of the other performers. Why can't they just be good musicians and not pimps and prostitutes?

I'm a little disappointed to have obligations this weekend so that I can't attend the free Scotty concert. (And I hope all the traffic on the road tomorrow won't mess up Abigail's wedding!) But on the flip side, I was a little startled to read the advice from another small town to Garner's police: "Your number one problem will be ten and eleven year old girls."  REALLY?  WHERE are the mothers? Sometimes I truly wonder what this world is coming to.  And then someone like Scotty comes along, reminding people that morals and values and faith and a good upbringing DO make a difference. Go Scotty, Go!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

the things I learn in church :)

"I also put a ring in your nostril, earrings in your ears and a beautiful crown on your head.." ~ Ezekiel 16:12
Last week during our Wednesday night Bible study we looked at Ezekiel 16. The chapter basically gives the history of Israel (its birth, redemption, falling, redemption, etc).  But in the passage detailing how God loved the nation so much that he desired to take care of this unwanted child, he lists all the wonderful things He did for this nation. The above verse is one of those.

Now I find this really funny. One, because my parents were SO hesitant to let us get our ears pierced, and two, because I scandalized my husband be relaying to him a conversation I had with a friend about nose piercings. Lest this post start a crazy rumor, I'm not getting my nose pierced. I have enough sinus and infection problems without adding to the craziness.  But my husband was absolutely aghast that I thought the tiny nose studs or miniscule rings were cool. (note: the small ones, not the bling!)

So there we were, sitting in Bible study, and hear God proclaim that he gave his adopted child a nose ring as a sign of affection! Dear hubby doesn't buy it, saying the ring here is like the ring you put in cows and pigs (through the dividing cartilage in the front) so you can pull an animal with it. He says that's the type of nose ring they're talking about here, not the decorative stuff we see today.

Either way, I just think it's really cool that Scripture discusses such things. Too bad I was unaware of this passage as a teenager! ;)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

a redneck wedding :)

When we first started hearing about this "destination wedding" (something I had never been to and always thought of as for the excessively rich and exotic), we would just smile. The groom's brother would shake his head every time someone asked about it and would say, "This is going to be the most redneck wedding to ever happen."  I must say, it was very different from anything I've ever attended. Parts of it were beautiful. And I found it doesn't really matter where you're standing, when you hear God's word read by a man with a heart for God and watch someone who does try to live right listen and respond, it creates a serious and beautiful moment. So without further ado, here's the cowboy wedding:
The two wild turkeys outside our cabin every morning. Bobby heard them, and I got to watch them from the window.
Grace in "cowboy wedding" attire.  The bridesmaids wore hot pink strapless, mini-skirted formals with cowboy boots.

Martha, the eldest of the Bryan grandchildren, trying to rock Luke to sleep before the ceremony.

The Blakes, heading to Charlotte as home missionaries this summer, after trying to satisfy Annie (the current youngest Bryan great-grandchild) after feeding time. Again, immediately before the ceremony.

Guitar music beforehand...love the rocking chair!

Tristan, the second great-grandson, slept through the ceremony.

Triston's brother Trey, barely 2, was not too happy about being a ring-bearer. Here's he being consoled by his grandma as all he wants is his Dad and Grandpa who are now in front of everyone. He needed a hand to hold. Once he got to the front he collapsed in his Granddaddy's arms, crying. I felt sorry for the tyke. He's the oldest Bryan great-grandson.

"Mama Pat" holding grand-daughter Faith. She made it half-way through the 15 minute ceremony. Her little brother will arrive this fall.

Kelly and Robert listening to Scripture. My brother-in-law David is officiating. And while you can't see it here or until the reception, the bride is wearing cowboy boots underneath her formal dress.

Luke, wide-eyed, watching his fellow cousins leave the ceremony one by one.

I didn't buy a cowboy hat (had meant to use one of Bobby's and forgot), but I loved the pink hat, top and earrings this lady had. You can't see it too clearly here, but it was quite stunning. Cow-girlish but feminine. Her daughter looked nice as well.
And Abigail, who graduated from BJU that morning and rushed in for the wedding and who is getting married this weekend, dancing with Sophia, the oldest of the Bryan great-grandchildren. Yes, the Bryan clan is fulfilling the command to fill the earth.

entrance to the barn...loved the cow tails candy sticking out of the boots. Boots were also the centerpieces on all the tables, along with miniature replicas of pint jars with handles filled with jelly beans the colors of the wedding. The stables/barn was beautifully decorated, and the floor had been raked clean, but those of us who had been in barns still knew what the floor consisted of. So we knew why the flies and gnats were coming. It made it a little hard to want food, and hesitant to eat cake when the dancers were kicking up dust (from dried manure) nearby.  But it was gorgeous, the food tasted good, and everyone seemed to have a good time.

And I won't tell who it was, but one of my sister-in-laws recognized a song from the Wii dance game, and laughingly said, "Hey! I could do this one!" Her quiet daughter immediately hissed, "SIT!" I shouldn't laugh. I imagine if I had children I wouldn't find it funny when they were embarrassed by me, but that just totally cracked me up.

So I've now been both to a destination wedding and a barn wedding in one shot. I have a feeling that this coming weekend will be much more traditional. :) And after this, there shouldn't be anymore Bryan grand-children weddings for quite some time. Babies, on the other hand, are coming quickly. :)

Monday, May 9, 2011

a first

This year seems to hold a lot of firsts for us (and some of them I hope are also lasts!). I was reminded this weekend that the only difference between an adventure and a disaster is the attitude of the person experiencing it. So Saturday became an adventure for us. :)
Mountain miles are not the same as city miles. Our place of residence was "thirty miles" from Linville Caverns, which is mostly wheelchair accessible. We didn't have to attend any of the wedding party events during the day, so we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to do a little vacationing while there. Somewhere in a book we read it would take us about an hour and a half to get there. So leaving at 10ish would give us plenty of time to eat brunch, get there, do the 30 minute tour, and get back with plenty of time to get ready for the wedding, especially if we use the fast route on the gps to get there (which would save us all of five minutes).
Did I mention that mountain miles are not the same as city miles?  Did I mention that we lost the cord to the gps device? We got halfway there when the battery died. I'm thankful to be married to a man who can fluently read maps. :) Otherwise we might still be in the mountains.
the bottomless mud pit, one of the 2 areas not accessible

I'd only been in a cave once before as a child, and I don't remember getting this wet. My hair was totally flattened by the time we left.

the bat (center left, about the size of a frog)

We enjoyed the caverns. The staff was helpful and friendly. Bobby actually laughed at the tour guide's jokes. We ignored all the evolution references, and didn't discuss any of the discrepancies in the stories until we got home last night.  Did I mention that mountain miles are not the same as city miles?
We ate lunch at one of the only three places we saw. A delicious meal (especially considering we're eating brunch at 2pm!), of country cooking, though way out of the price range we normally pay, and at 2:30pm we're racing back the thirty miles (that takes 2 hours to drive), enjoying the scenery along the way but also desperately looking for a gas station (did find one and used the necessary but they had no gas!) and arrived back just in the nick of time to change clothes and get back down the mountain for the 5pm wedding.
Robert & Kelly's reception area
And the wedding was another first for us. But that story deserves a post all of its own. :)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

simply cool

Last month during our visit/vacation to Alabama, we had the opportunity to visit with my Aunt Pat. This was my first visit to her Montgomery house, and it was a special treat because a good chunk of the house was wheelchair accessible. That is very unusual, especially for older homes.

In one of her rooms, this is the main piece of furniture. When I saw it, my first thought was "Susan!" (my sister-in-law), immediately bumped by "a church window" and "I LOVE It!"

It's a bookcase that my cousin found at an antique store. I think it is absolutely lovely.

And for this pic she'll absolutely kill me the next time she sees me, but this is her cooking. As a child I always dreamed of growing up to dress like her. And then I sadly grew up and realized that the tunic tops and long flowy skirts and knee-length boots that she wore and looked so elegant in make short people like me look dumpy and even shorter. But I still like the way she dresses, and should God every stretch me out like her or my little sister, I too will wear tunic tops and A-frame dresses. :)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

is it me?

I've been told I have no concept of time.
Evidently I'm not the only one.

Yesterday I started working on a quilt top that a group of us started a few weeks back.
The pattern says it's a "two weekend project".
Did I mention it's a McKenna Ryan pattern?
I've finally quit drooling over her stuff and am actually going to try one.

Perhaps I am ignorant.
Maybe with my broken elbow I'm sewing a lot slower than normal.

Today will be the fifth day to spend at least an hour or two on this quilt.
This does not include the time I spent cutting out pieces.
This does not include the two hours my friends helped mark and piece triangles.
Need I say the end is NOT in sight?

But it might resemble the pattern when I'm done.
But I think I will like it.
And I want the kind of weekend McKenna Ryan has. Hers obviously has a lot more hours than mine.

Monday, May 2, 2011

a reminder

Last night I was sharing some frustrations with a friend at church. He shook his head and made this comment, "Well, when people don't know Christ that's how they live." It really made me stop and think. Because I attempt to live by the ten commandments and treat others the way they want to be treated, I expect everyone else to do so the same. But they DON'T.  And if Christ is not the center of their life, why should I expect them to be a decent person? If there is no reason for a person to love others as much as they love themselves like Christ commanded, then why should I be so surprised when they act selfishly?  George W. Bush, even though he has faults, addresses this very thing in his autobiography. He started reading the Bible, not because he was curious about God at the time, but because he recognized it provided a good roadmap for a healthy society. And in times of devastation, I recognize just how true that is.

If we lived in a society where people recognized a higher power, family and friends attempting to help loved ones and neighbors would not be turned away from disaster sites. People would be allowed to freely come and help, and there would be no concern from state troopers and national guardsmen that you might be coming to loot unprotected sites.

If we lived in a society where people practiced God's word and treated each person as a brother and sister in Christ, employees would not feel like their life was worthless. They would not be reprimanded for seeking shelter during a tornado, nor told to "return to work" instead of being taken to a hospital after injuries.

If we lived our lives truly seeking to please God and him alone, Christians would not worry about which church is providing supplies. If you already have places open and operating relief efforts and there's truly not a need for another place, why create one just so your church's name can be out there? Pride, pure and simple. (and my accolades go to Cordova on this one: the high school is hosting FEMA, cooking for the town, and distributing toiletry items, the Church of Christ, closest to the destroyed houses, is handling clothing, and Cordova FWB, closest to downtown, is now handling meals for workers).

If we lived in a society that exercised the principles of James and Proverbs and controlled our tongues, there would not be uncontrollable rumors of deaths or events that didn't happen (22 deaths in Cordova when the county coroner only reports 14 for the whole county...really people?)

And if I truly loved people the way Christ did/does, I would have much more patience and understanding, a lot more consideration and kindness, and a wonderfully, healthy attitude.  Thankfully, his mercies are new EVERY morning. And that is good indeed.